A Queensland man has been slammed after his friend posted images online of him handling a potentially venomous snake.
Alex Bowden took to Facebook group Townsville Snake Catchers on Monday to share two photos of Wyatt McDonald holding up the snake with a tree branch after pinching it by the tail.
Mr Bowden asked: “Just wondering what kind of snake this is?”
Other users were quick to criticise the pair’s actions, suggesting handling of snakes should be left to professionals.
“One that should be left alone . And people wonder why they get bitten,” one user wrote.
“If you don’t know … why are you touching it?” another user questioned.
Registered snake catcher David Mills waded into the discussion, identifying the reptile as a “mildly venomous” brown tree snake.
Despite not condoning their behaviour, Mr Mills said Mr McDonald’s handling was “OK” and that he himself had “picked up snakes I didn’t know what they were.”
Dr Ronelle Welton, from the University of Melbourne’s Australian Venom Research Unit, said one-fifth of snake bite fatalities occurred when people tried to pick up the snakes.
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“People should not attempt to pick up snakes and need to be encouraged to practice appropriate first aid and know CPR,” Dr Welton said.
In February, Sunshine Coast Snake Catcher Max Jackson warned the public to avoid handling snakes at all costs after receiving worrying images of people mishandling venomous reptiles.
“If you’re not sure of the snake species definitely do not touch it, we have some seriously dangerously species here in Australia so always keep your own safety first,” he said.
In January, Sunshine Coast 24/7 snake catcher Stuart McKenzie issued a similar warning to Yahoo7 News, saying if finding an unknown snake, avoid contact at all costs.
“Don’t do anything silly and show them the respect they deserve. If you see a snake, keep your distance and don’t take matters into your own hands,” he said.
“Call a snake catcher and they can remove them safely.”