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Teen critically ill after bite from world's most venomous snake

Authorities in Australia are confused as to how the taipan – usually only found inland – made it to a coastal area.

'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin holds an inland taipan snake. The snake is the world's deadliest.
'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin holds an inland taipan snake. The snake is the world's deadliest.
Image: WONG MAYE-E/AP

AN AUSTRALIAN TEENAGER is critically ill in hospital after being bitten by the world’s most venomous snake, with detectives probing how he came into contact with the desert reptile.

The 17-year-old walked into a hospital in the small town of Kurri Kurri, north of Sydney, on Wednesday afternoon with a bite to his left hand.

According to local reports, his friend was carrying a plastic tub containing the snake responsible, which was later identified as the toxic inland taipan.

Also known as ‘the fierce snake’ due to the strength of its venom – one drop of which is enough to kill 100 adult men – the inland taipan typically lives in central Australia’s arid deserts and is not normally seen on the coast.

Detectives had been called in to investigate where the snake had come from, with speculation it could have been an illegal pet.

“The youth… is reported to be in a stable condition,” police said in a statement.

“Police are now attempting to establish how the youth came to be bitten, and hope to speak to the young man once he is considered well enough.”

Police said the incident was not believed to be linked to a nearby zoo break-in at the weekend, when thieves made off with four pythons and two alligators. ”No taipans were reported stolen from the zoo,” they said.

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The snake-catcher who identified the 28-inch taipan, Barry Martin, said he had recognised its distinctive markings “straight off”.

“In days of old they were called the ‘two-step snake’, as in – it bites you, you take two steps and you’re dead,” Martin told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“I just put the Kevlar gloves on and picked it up… Not many people come across them in the wild.”

- © AFP, 2012

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