Little girl playing with deadly snake on video was ‘extremely lucky’

An 11-year-old girl has filmed herself picking up one of Australia’s most dangerous snakes, shocking experts.

Snake elimination service Stewy the Snake Catcher posted the video on its Facebook page after receiving it from her grandparents.

In the video, the young girl can be seen holding the small snake that slides in her fingers. The girl says in the video that she mistakes the snake for a garter snake — a small, harmless species.

“This is an extremely dangerous eastern brown snake. The girl in the video is very lucky not to have been bitten by the snake and her parents should probably buy a lottery ticket,” the snake catcher wrote in the Facebook post.

Eastern brown snakes are highly venomous and responsible for most snakebite deaths in Australia.

They’re small, unassuming snakes, which means many people might mistake them for other harmless species. Like most snakes, they only bite when threatened. But the eastern brown snake is known to be nervous, which means they’re more likely to bite.

“She was lucky not to have been bitten. While any herpetologist will warn children and adults against handling snakes, particularly species they are unfamiliar with, the footage offers insight into snake behavior,” Dr. Damian Michael, a herpetologist and senior research fellow in ecology at Charles Sturt University in Australia news week.

“They will only try to bite if they feel threatened, and since they don’t manhandle the snake by squeezing it or grabbing it by the tail, the snake doesn’t appear to be threatened. Some religious cultures even treat snakes in their ceremonies (although bites and deaths are reported).

Michael also said the snake appears to be a juvenile. He said a recent study found that they have different venom protein compositions than adults. This means that antivenoms derived from adult snakes may not be as effective.

Michael added that this video highlights the need for better snake education in the country.

“’The only good snake is a dead snake’ is a mantra that is sadly still very much alive in Australia and around the world. Snakes play a crucial role in the ecosystem and should be respected but not feared and of course never picked by anyone without the appropriate training or wildlife license,” said Michael.

While that snake didn’t bite the little girl, said Australian toxicologist Ken Winkel of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health news week that it can inflict fatal bites.

Eastern brown snake
A stock photo shows an eastern brown snake. It is one of Australia’s deadliest snakes.
Ken Griffiths/Getty

“The venom is dominated by potent clot-inducing toxins. The bites can result in rapid collapse and sudden death within minutes of being bitten — it’s thought to be linked to decreased blood flow to the heart caused by these clotting factors,” Winkel said.

“These patients sometimes recover from collapse and unconsciousness to show non-clotting blood. This can lead to uncontrolled bleeding into the gut or brain with fatal consequences. This tendency to bleed is because the powerful clotting factors, which are made up of enzymes, use up all the clotting proteins in the blood, leaving the patient vulnerable to major bleeding.”

Winkel said eastern brown snakes also possess very small fangs.

“Consequently, it can be difficult to identify a bite site, and such bites can be missed by the victim until it’s too late,” he said. Little girl playing with deadly snake on video was ‘extremely lucky’

Rick Schindler

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