An Australian woman was left “pretty surprised” after finding a highly venomous snake inside her handbag, a reptile catcher has said.
Luke Huntley, who runs the relocation business Snake Catcher Noosa, said on Monday that he recently relocated a nocturnal species, the eastern small-eyed snake, that shocked a resident of Noosa Waters in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast region.
“The resident had left it [the handbag] on her bedroom patio outside overnight and this cheeky snakey chose this as its place to hide for the day,” he wrote in a Facebook post, alongside an image of the reptile after it had been captured.
The woman, who was not named, saw the black scales of the snake when she went to pick up the bag the following day, local media outlet Noosa Today reported.
Huntley told Newsweek via email that it is “very common to find snakes in weird places” while doing his job and warned that leaving a personal item like a handbag outside “is really just asking for something to go in, not just snakes but everything.”
This snake, which was safely captured into a bag and relocated to some bushland, had likely slithered inside the bag “to keep warm and dry for the day,” Huntley said.
He said the small-eyeds are “capable of inflicting a fatal bite” and the resident was “very lucky” that she spotted the snake before putting her hand into the bag.
Huntley said in the Facebook post: “Snakes get into things all the time, especially when you leave things outside. It’s a very good lesson and reminder to keep anything inside that you don’t want to share with the wildlife. So keep shoes, bags and anything that our wild friends might see as a warm home inside and this won’t happen to you.”
A profile on the species by the Australian Museum says they can grow to over three feet but the average size is closer to 1.6 feet. While common, it notes people are unlikely to encounter this type of snake often because it’s a “secretive night-dweller.”
The small-eyed snakes, documented as being cannibalistic to their own kind, seek shelter under stones, rocks, loose bark and fallen timber, the profile says.
Anyone who encounters one and falls victim to its bite should urgently get medical attention and any wounds should always be treated as serious.
The Australian Museum notes its venom has a “long-acting” type of toxin that induces paralysis, and it continues to attack muscle tissue, including the heart, for days.
The profile says: “When disturbed it may thrash about aggressively, but it is usually disinclined to bite. Toxicity of the venom seems to vary geographically, and the effect on humans can range from no symptoms to renal failure and possibly death.”
There has been at least one recorded fatality in Australia tied to the eastern small-eyed snake. It is unlikely to be encountered foraging for prey in the open during daylight.
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