As a professional reptile wrangler, it’s not often that Stuart McKenzie is alarmed by a snake, no matter how venomous. Recently, however, he had one of the “closest calls” of his career when a feisty red-bellied black snake came dangerously close to biting his fingers.
McKenzie, the owner of Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7, received a call from a school in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Saturday. Understandably worried for the students’ safety, the teachers ushered all the children inside and away from the snake while they awaited his arrival.
Upon his arrival, the snake catcher found the venomous red belly lurking near a tree. Without hesitation, he scooped the reptile up with his snake hook and placed it into a bag before releasing it into a wooded area far from schoolchildren.
The next call, however, didn’t go as smoothly. Arriving at a home nearby, McKenzie searched for another red belly, finding it hiding near a fence in a family’s backyard. Once again, he bent down to retrieve the venomous snake, this time by hand. And this one wasn’t nearly as cooperative.
As McKenzie gently lifted the snake by the tail to place it into his bag, the little red belly lunged upward, attempting to sink its teeth into his finger. Luckily, it only managed to headbutt him, but it was enough to give the snake catcher a nice shock.
“Red Belly Head Butts My Fingers!” he wrote in the caption of the video. “Well, that was the closest call I have had in a while! It’s been a hectic week and in the heat of it all yesterday, I nearly copped a bite from a small Red Belly!”
How Venomous is the Red-Bellied Black Snake?
Though the little venomous snake provided the reptile wrangler (and those of us watching from home) a good jump scare, he recaptured his calm within seconds. It most certainly wasn’t his first encounter with an angry snake, nor would it be the last.
“This cheeky little thing headbutted my finger!” McKenzie said in the video as he freed the snake in a wooded area. “Closest call I’ve had in a little while. Off you go, Mr. Cheeky.”
But was the snake catcher’s shockingly relaxed demeanor justified? Just how venomous is the red-bellied black snake? Well, the short answer is, it could’ve been worse.
A bite from an eastern brown, another venomous snake native to Australia, for instance, would require immediate medical attention. Without antivenom, the bite would become fatal in minutes. A red-bellied black snake, on the other hand, doesn’t pack quite as strong a punch.
Red bellies are responsible for around 16 percent of all snake bites in Australia. None of them, however, have been fatal. That said, their bite is still incredibly painful with a number of nasty side effects.
With each bite, the venomous red-bellied black snake released neurotoxins, myotoxins, and anticoagulants. This combination can cause excessive bleeding, nausea, vomiting, and muscle weakness, among other symptoms. In some cases, the victim loses their sense of smell, sometimes permanently.