Broad-headed Snake with opaque eyes
Getty Images, Ken Griffiths

Hiker Lucky to be Alive After Bringing Home 'Harmless' Snake

He wanted to show his kids the cool snake he found.

As parents, we love bringing things home for our kids while we are out adventuring. But one Australian man's attempt was sorely misguided when he picked up what he thought was a harmless snake while hiking and thought it'd be a cool nature find to bring home and share with his children.

It turns out that the seemingly "harmless" snake was anything but: According to a Facebook post by Southern Highlands Snake Catcher, the slithery critter was a poisonous broad-headed snake, which can be mistaken for the non-venomous diamond python.

What's more, the unidentified hiker had actually been bitten by the snake while still on the trail but "didn't think much of it." He also didn't apply any wound care and didn't think about needing antivenom. The man eventually went to the hospital's emergency department after becoming incredibly ill, "violently vomiting" and experiencing swelling in his hand.

The emergency room contacted Southern Highlands Snake Catcher to positively identify the venomous creature. The snake catcher confirmed that it was indeed a broad-headed snake.

Many poisonous snakes look very similar to harmless counterparts—including in the United States—and can be easily misidentified, such as the garter snake and the diamondback rattlesnake.

The snake expert removed the reptile from the man's home and returned it to the wild. He was even able to return it to approximately the same location it was taken from. In the post, he said the hiker was "extremely lucky" to be alive, especially after going so long without antivenom or other first aid. The man agreed and said Southern Highlands Snake Catcher could use his story for educational purposes so others would not make the same egregious mistake.

It turns out that broad-headed snakebites can be deadly. When milked, they release 12mg of venom, which acts as a neurotoxin "with powerful procoagulants and is weakly hemolytic"—meaning it begins to break down red blood cells in the body while encouraging clotting. Tiger snake antivenom is typically used for treatment. The man spent six hours being treated in the hospital before he was able to return home for recovery. The snake catcher reminded followers that wildlife should be left in nature. If you see something you want to share or remember, take a picture or video to share with others. If you are bitten by a snake, you should get treatment immediately.

READ MORE: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know, According to a Vet