Aussie snake catcher details 'scary' brush with death after surviving venomous bite

The dramatic incident unravelled during a live Facebook broadcast to shocked fans.

When Aussie snake catcher attended a job near his home in Brisbane last month, he didn't expect to be driven away in the back of an ambulance.

Doing what his done many times before, Tony Harrison, of Harrison’s Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catchers, responded to a call-out with his wife and son in tow involving two eastern brown snakes — which are among the most venomous creatures on the planet.

But it all went horribly wrong when one of them latched onto his hand, sending poisonous venom into his bloodstream. Tony was bitten just before 2:30pm on October 22 in front of his wife and son— and it was also broadcast live on Facebook.

Tony Harrison snake catcher
Tony Harrison was bitten by a deadly brown snake last month. Source: A Current Affair

How bad is an eastern brown snake bite?

The bite of an eastern brown snake is incredibly potent and contains powerful presynaptic neurotoxins which result in progressive paralysis. Most of the recorded snake bites in Australia have come from eastern browns, according to Billabong Sanctuary Wildlife Park.

The deadly species is responsible for 60 per cent of Australia's snakebite fatalities every year, Australian Reptile Park’s Billy Collett told Yahoo News Australia in February.

But living to tell the tale, the doting father-of-one was overcome by emotion at the thought of leaving his family behind.

Son watched as terrifying scenes unfolded

His eight-year-old son Jenson watched as his father got whisked away to hospital in a serious condition. And that was the hardest thing about the ordeal, Tony has since revealed, detailing the snake encounter with A Current Affair on Friday.

"One of the hardest things is watching the ambulance doors shut," he said through tears."I just looked at my son, pointed to him. (It) said 1000 things with a point. So, it was scary."

Snake catchers v handling brown snake.
Brooke and Tony Harrison, who run Harrison’s Gold Coast and Brisbane Snake Catcher business. Source: Facebook.

The bite is Tony's fifth in his time as a snake catcher, but not all have been as deadly as this one. "This one I knew was not a dry bite. I could physically feel it," he recalled. "I could physically see it and it hung on for seconds and it was a big snake and I thought, 'This is not good. It's not good at all'."

His "stupid actions" are what caused him to get bitten he revealed, admitting he had "handled [the snake] wrong". The first lesson in snake wrangling is to have sight of its head, but in this instance, he didn't.

"It was a breeding pair of eastern browns that had unfortunately already killed the customer's dog," he told the program. "I went in to grab both of them at the same time and pull them out but his head was sitting there in the bush.

"He just grabbed me on the wrist there and as I lifted him up, he hung on for about two or three seconds."

Snake catcher became paralysed after bite

The ordeal only worsened when in hospital though when the paralysis kicked in. It was by far the most "scary part," he said. Tony said he couldn't swallow, speak or open his eyes. "My eyes were going in different directions. My fingers could not work," he said.

Despite his brush with death, the Queenslander says he won't give up wrangling just yet. But he's certainly learned a lesson about proper handling admitting it was his "closest call" yet.

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