Australia is home to some 140 species of land snake and an additional 32 species of sea snake. Though not the highest number in the world (that accolade belongs to Brazil), snake sightings are far from a rare occurrence. Even Australians, however, draw the line at eating lunch inches away from a highly venomous brown snake.
When professional reptile wranglers like Stuart McKenzie from Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers receive calls regarding “huge” snakes, they don’t know what to expect until they lay eyes on the animal themselves.
Sure, the snake might actually be huge, but it could also be a tiny two-footer that startled someone as they were stepping out of the shower. You read that correctly – as frightening as it might sound, stumbling across a snake in the bathroom isn’t all that unusual in Australia.
Arriving at the scene, however, even McKenzie was a little taken aback by the size of the venomous eastern brown snake lurking under the restaurant’s deck. The average adult is just under 5 feet in length, but this one was at least 6 feet long!
“Big, big brown snake,” McKenzie said as he arrived at the restaurant and began gathering supplies. “Apparently they’ve got a deck out the back where a lot of people hang out, having their lunch and stuff like that. And there’s a – what they’ve described as ‘huge’ brown snake, one of the biggest ones they’ve seen in this area, hanging out under the deck.”
Venomous eastern brown snake released into the wild
Venturing over to the deck in question, the snake catcher realized it was going to be a trickier relocation than he might have anticipated. The wooden platform was nearly flat against the ground, making it impossible to stick a catch pole, let alone an arm, underneath to pull the brown snake out.
As McKenzie wandered the deck in search of the snake, the six-foot serpent stuck its head out from under the platform, carefully keeping the majority of its body hidden in the shade. This wasn’t all that helpful, though, as the last place you want to grab a snake is by the head.
Even the skittish eastern brown snake won’t bite unless provoked – but sticking a hand in its face is a great way to provoke it.
As luck would have it, a bird eventually passed by the reptile’s well-chosen hiding place, drawing the brown snake out into the grass. This allowed McKenzie to (very carefully) snatch the snake by the tail, drop it into a bag, and remove it from the restaurant.
Seeing the full length of the venomous vagrant, he had to agree with the restaurant workers’ assessment. “It is a huge brown snake,” McKenzie said as he allowed the snake to slither into his waiting trap bag.
“Here’s the beautiful big brown snake,” he continued, showing off his latest catch. “Obviously quite challenging, we had to wait a little while… The birds came in, they spotted him. I thought that was actually going to be detrimental, but they ended up sort of forcing him out, so I’ve gotta thank the birds.”