Deadly threat hiding in steps of Aussie winery – can you spot it?

Can you see the snake on the steps of this McLaren Vale winery in South Australia?

When a single bite could result in death within 15 minutes, an Adelaide snake catcher wasn’t messing around when she got the call out to a McLaren Vale winery for an elusive eastern brown snake.

The one year old reptile had been keeping staff at the Wirra Wirra winery on their toes while wedged in between the cracks of an old set of steps used regularly by workers at the property.

“When I got there, they're like you can just see its little head poking out,” Ange Broadstock from Snake Catchers Adelaide told Yahoo News. “The day before it [had] kept coming out and just sunning itself on the steps.”

The eastern brown snake hiding in the cracks of the steps at Wirra Wirra winery.
Facebook users were puzzled trying to find the eastern brown yearling in this photo taken at Wirra Wirra winery. Source: Facebook/Snake Catchers Adelaide

“Apparently they had a different snake catcher from a different company come out the day before who said, no sorry, there's nothing I can do.”

Even an image of the snake in question left many on social media scratching their heads.

“All I can see is bricks, dirt and leaves,” one person wrote. “I’ve been to Spec Savers and still couldn’t see it,” said another.

“If someone did not point it out I never would have found it,” someone else commented. “Wow, so tiny, [it] took me a hot minute to find him!” another said.

But Ange was determined to catch the uninvited guest.

“So I got some paper towels and tried to fill up as many holes as I could so I could get the hose onto him and try and flush him out, and yeah, it took a good 40 odd minutes to wash him out,” she said.

An eastern brown snake captured from a retaining wall.
Last month Snake Catchers Adelaide was called out to remove an eastern brown snake from a retaining wall 'after the cat was seen playing with it.' Source: Facebook/Snake Catchers Adelaide

‘Little tacker’ packs a punch

Despite being just “a little tacker” at 30 centimetres long, the yearling snake is just as deadly as its parents.

“The eastern brown snake is the second most venomous land snake in the world,” Ange said. “People have been known to die within 15 minutes.”

“There was actually a man in Queensland who had taken on an eastern brown snake, I'm pretty sure it was in his house, and he was dead before paramedics arrived. I have heard of another guy, I think it was a western brown but it was also a baby, and he picked it up and he got bitten and I'm pretty sure he was dead within about 15 minutes.”

“It doesn't matter how big or small they are. You just leave them alone.”

An eastern brown snake on concrete.
Ange Broadstock from Snake Catchers Adelaide warned eastern brown snakes are hatching at the moment. Facebook/Snake Catchers Adelaide

Watch out for eastern brown hatchlings

With eastern brown snakes beginning to hatch now, residents are being urged to be weary.

“They come out not much bigger than the size of the pen really and they come out pretty feisty,” Ange said. “I know they're small and people think, oh yeah I can probably deal with that myself, but it’s not a good move.”

And where there’s one, there’s likely to be others.

“If people see a little baby then they should be aware that they may see more than one,” Ange continued. “If there's some eggs hatching nearby, then they may get more than one on their property.”

She says the best bet is to phone a professional snake catcher right away and keep your eyes on it from a safe distance.

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