Sunday, January 15, 2012

That's no ants in your pants...

After all the people telling me that getting bitten by a snake is extremely rare, and that they never bother YOU if you don't bother THEM, something fantastically rare has happened.

Not to me, of course, but my brother-in-law, Anthony, the "great hunter".

He had a copperhead crawl up his trouser leg. The one time he was outside NOT looking for snakes.

As the story has been told and retold, many times this one day (and understandably so, as this doesn't happen often and is quite terrifying!), he was leaning against the hay bales up the back of the property when he felt the thing crawl up his leg. He somehow managed to guide it back down is pant leg without getting bitten, push it's head down past his boot (instead of into it) and hold it to the ground with a piece of wood while trying to look for something to kill it with.

The one time he didn't have his knife with him.

As there was nothing on hand, he Steve Erwin-d it and grabbed it by the back of the head and it instantly wrapped its body around his arm. All this time, he was apparently yelling loud as he could for his father, the only one home, to get him some help. He didn't hear a thing until Anthony came to his bedroom window yelling.

Eventually it was gotten across that no, Anthony was not playing with a live snake, did not know if he'd been bitten, and the ambulance was called, along with a snake handler. And then, of course, the local paper. His mother was called (in the middle of church with all of us) after, and she left immediately. My husband and I showed up about half an hour, forty minutes, later, to this scene.

Anthony, as calm as a cucumber. With the worlds 8th deadliest snake wrapped tightly around his wrist. 

Dripping venom.

The paramedics wouldn't come closer than about 2 yards, except to quickly check Anthony over for bites. And even then, just his leg. And very very cautiously. Really, there's not much you can do if you HAVE been bitten, I hear over and over, but lay down where you are and wait for help to come. Movement, even walking to a phone, causes the venom to go through your system faster, and your blood and other bodily fluids are probably flowing fast enough as is what with adrenalin. Most of the time hospitals won't even administer anti-venom if they get to you in time and get you close to ventilators and whatnot, because it makes you nearly as sick as the venom itself. 

As a slight side note (well, more of one), the anti-venom in Tasmania is for all three snakes (there's only three types of snakes here). So no point in running after the snake to kill it. Also, the last person to die from a snake bite was in 1966 from a Tiger Snake (as read in the pamphlet given to us by the snake handler). It's over on the mainland that they have the really REALLY deadly snakes that get super aggressive. Comparatively.

So after waiting for a long time (Anthony held on to the snake for nearly an hour before we got there, nearly two hours in total), the snake handler arrived. At the same time as a reporter and photographer from The Advocate, a local paper. (Their photos are much better than mine sine the man taking them had a much MUCH better camera, as well as training, I'm sure). Check it out, they'll have a video up on their site for a short time, too, we're told. 

The snake handler examined the situation, had a look at the snake, and then carefully explained to Anthony what he was going to do, and what Anthony was to do. The snake, by this time, was wound in a tight little knot around his wrist. A knot which is apparently used by the snake to quickly turn itself about and attack the moment it feels any slack in whatever is gripping it's head.

Slowly unwinding the snake

You can nearly see it's full length, just before he flung it into the bag

Safe in the bag! As Anthony slowly regains blood flow and feeling to his hand

No, he wasn't bitten, but better safe than sorry, and swallow any pride you have and let the medics check you out

The snake handler told Anthony more than a few times he was lucky to have not been bitten. And it doesn't take a hard look to see there was a bit of divine looking out on this situation. So, after all was well, the photos, quotes, and recordings taken, the reporter and photographer gone, Anthony took the two snake handlers out to the back of the property to look for more snakes. They came back with a four-foot tiger snake less than half an hour later. He'll apparently be calling to come out again to look for more. I FULLY plan on asking if I can come along. 

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