A Sydney couple was very frightened when they found an uncommon venomous snake in a bag of supermarket lettuce – but they recovered and then used the fresh produce in a salad wrap.
After discovering the baby pale-headed snake, Alexander White had so many thoughts that were troubling: ‘What if the snake came from something else?’
(Photo : Mark Broadhurst)
The Young Pale-headed Snake
The young pale-headed snake (Hoplocephalus bitorquatus), was folded into a two-pack of cos lettuce which Alexander White and Amelie Neate – his wife, bought from an Aldi supermarket in Sydney on Monday.
Alexander White said: “It was moving all over and pulling its tiny tongue out. It was the tongue of the snake that allowed me to know it was not a giant worm. I would have been more relaxed with a worm, to be sincere.”
The snake was about 20cm long and seemed to have been peacefully sleeping in the lettuce in the refrigerated grocery cabinet of the supermarket until White carried it up, moved it all over the store, then pushed it in his backpack for the 10-minute bicycle ride back home.
“We didn’t have a trolley because none of us was with a dollar coin so we were just holding it – in reappraisal that kind of freaked me out,” White said. The snake came out as they were taking out their groceries at home.
They gave wildlife rescue organization Wires a call and were told the snake was probably a baby eastern brown – one of the most venomous and violent species in Australia.
But after an extensive amount of snake photography, it was recognized as a pale-headed snake, a species that an expert in snakes told the couple was “medically significant”.”I thought the meaning was that it had medicinal properties,” said White.
“It obviously means that if you are bitten by the snake you have to head to the hospital pretty quickly.”
They bite over and over again when provoked, said Neate. As stated by the Australian Museum, pale-headed snake are usually a “shy but nervous species, they get agitated easily if cornered”.
(Photo : Pixabay)
Snake Handler Arrived to Get the Animal
There have been no documented casualties, but the museum states “an envenomation can bring about some symptoms that are unpleasant, including localized pain, abnormal bleeding, blurred vision, and severe headache.” White said the young snake was quite adorable.
He and Neate spent some time making a video of it and conducting video calls with their children who were away for school holidays so they could see the snake while waiting for the assistance of an expert. They also searched the remaining groceries for roaming wildlife after noticing the lettuce bag was left open at one end.
At 10.30 pm a snake handler from Wires arrived to get the animal, which was carried to a heated container. With the assistance of Aldi, they traced where the lettuce came from back to Toowoomba, and are trying to organize transport so the snake will be taken home.
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