An Australian woman found a rather unwanted surprise in her Christmas tree last weekend: a 3-foot long venomous snake. The professional snake wrangler called in to handle the problem says it’s not an uncommon occurrence.
As the Independent reports, the homeowner, identified only by her first name, “Cheryl,” had left the door open in her suburban Melbourne home (it’s summer in Australia), but apparently later wished she hadn’t. When she took a look at her Christmas tree, she noticed something slithering about among the ornaments.
— Tim Doutré (@Timdoutre) December 18, 2016
The woman did exactly what you’re supposed to do in this situation: she took a picture of it. OK, maybe taking a picture of a venomous snake slithering about in your Christmas tree isn’t exactly what you’re supposed to do in this situation. But after getting a couple of shots, she did the right thing – she closed the door to her living room so the snake wouldn’t get into other places he wasn’t supposed to be.
Good job, Cheryl. I’d have run away screaming, and then, I guess, just moved. To a new house. A new house not in Australia.
She then called in profession snake wrangler, and all-around pest guy, Barry Goldsmith, according to ABC News Australia. Goldsmith was actually pretty impressed by Cheryl’s chillness at the whole situation.
“Usually I get people screaming and hysterical and shaking and having seizures just at the thought of having a snake in the house. But she was pretty cool.”
About half an hour later, Goldsmith had worked his magic, corralled the snake, and let it loose safely into the wild. And just to make sure Cheryl knew what she was dealing with, he identified the slithering beast. It was a tiger snake (or Notechis scutatus, if you care about this sort of thing) — a venomous, deadly serpent native to Australia.
According to the Australian Museum, the bite of a tiger snake can kill a human.
“The snake’s large size, often aggressive defence and toxic venom make it extremely dangerous to humans. Although generally shy and preferring escape over conflict, a cornered tiger snake will put on an impressive threat display by holding its forebody in a tense, loose curve with the head slightly raised and pointed at the offender. It will hiss loudly as it inflates and deflates its body, and if provoked further will lash out and bite forcefully. The venom of the tiger snake is strongly neurotoxic and coagulant, and anyone suspected of being bitten should seek medical attention immediately.”
According to the University of Sydney Discipline of Anaesthesia, snake bites — tiger snake and otherwise — are a horrifyingly common occurrence in the Land Down Under. About 3,000 Aussies get bitten by snakes each year, and between 200 and 500 of them, on average, require antivenom. Fortunately, only about one or two, per year on average, die from snake bites. The brown snake is the biggest killer, accounting for about half of all snakebite fatalities in Australia. The other half are divided among the tiger snake, the taipan, and other species.
Fortunately, the tiger snake is a shy and reclusive critter and, as you dad used to tell you, is more afraid of you than you are of him. However, if he thinks he’s cornered or threatened, he’ll strike. You don’t want that.
Back at Cheryl’s now-snake-free house, Goldsmith says that he’s wrangled snakes from Christmas presents before, but never from the Christmas tree itself.
“This is a one-off thing. It’s like lightning striking. It’s not going to happen again for sure. Not this year anyway.”
[Featured Image by Africa Studio/Shutterstock]