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Photo of 'unique' blue snake prompts deadly warning

The 'spectacular' find was a first for an Aussie snake catcher with over 20 years of experience.

An Aussie snake catcher has issued a deadly warning not to be deceived by the colour of a snake after picking up a startling blue reptile in the outback.

Mathew Hampton has been a snake catcher for more than 20 years, but told Yahoo News Australia it was the first time he spotted a strap-snouted brown snake of this shade.

In a photo taken in the Strzelecki Desert, in the Far North Region of South Australia last year, the astonishing snake can be seen curled up in the sand.

The brown snake appearing blue in colour in the trench with the pipeline (left) and a close-up of the snake (right).
Snake catcher Mathew Hampton was called to rescue the strap-snouted brown snake out of a trench in the Strzelecki Desert, in the Far North Region of South Australia. Source: Mathew Hampton

“While the strap-snouted brown snake is extremely variable in colour — and I’ve probably caught well over a dozen different colour forms — they’re normally a dull brown creamy colour,” said Hampton, whose job it was to relocate any snakes found to be in harm’s way on a construction site for a pipeline.

“That steely blue colour is the only one I’ve seen like that, so it just goes to show they can be quite variable, albeit rare, and that nature throws up some oddities sometimes.

Which is how unsuspecting people can make mistakes.

“When you pick up your field guide, often it'll just say that the strap-snouted brown snake could be brown, light brown, dark brown or jet black,” Hampton, who runs the social media account Snake Identification Australia, explained.

“It’s quite vague. But that's where this photo is proof in itself why colour isn't isn't a reliable means of identification.”

Because the strap-snouted brown snake is in fact extremely dangerous.

“They're highly venomous,” Hampton said, “and without treatment after copping a severe bite, it could end deadly within a couple of hours.

“But as long as you apply the correct snake bite first aid and get treatment as soon as possible, you’ve got some pretty good chances.”

He added that’s why it’s important to leave things to the professionals, and not try to catch or kill the snake.

“Really, nobody should be touching snakes except for the experts,” Hampton said. “Just play it safe and just give the snake a wide berth because you never know.”

The Strzelecki Desert in South Australia.
Luckily the Strzelecki Desert doesn't get a lot of visitors who may come into contact with the deadly reptile. Source: Getty Images

Fortunately, the place where the startling blue snake was found doesn’t get much footfall.

“That area of the Strzelecki Desert doesn't have many people, it’s just really remote work crews,” the snake catcher explained.

‘Never would have guessed’

Taking to Facebook and Instagram to share his find, Mathew said it was one of the most “unique” catches of his career and that he would have “probably seen well in excess of a hundred” strap-snouted brown snakes.

“How incredible and beautifully coloured,” one person wrote on Facebook. “What a beauty!” said another. “I am VERY in awe of him and his cool coat,” someone else commented.

While others were shocked at the identification. “I’d never have guessed this would be any kind of brown snake,” one person said, marvelling at the reptile’s “spectacular colour”.

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