Single mum who pulled venomous snake from dunny finds international fame

Despite the global attention, Australian woman Tennille Bankes says it's all in a day's work.

An overrun single mother of five, working three jobs, has made international headlines after she pulled a venomous black snake from a public toilet in regional Australia.

CNN, NBC, BBC, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Reuters and even the Hindustan Times have shown a curious interest in Tennille Bankes' astonishing snake rescue since she uploaded a video to TikTok last week. But she's had little time to respond.

Footage shows police standing back as Tennille calmly hauls the snake out of the Goondiwindi dunnie and into a bag.

Left - the snake being rescued from inside the toilet. Right - Tennille holding the snake.
Tennille Bankes who pulled a snake from public toilets in Goondiwindi has been celebrated internationally. Source: Wildlife Empire

Comments from abroad about the snake have been hilarious, with one man saying, "Don’t let my missus know, we are heading over (to Australia) next year."

"I can't imagine living in Australia where it seems like every creature is poisonous," a woman in Louisiana quipped. Others marvelled at the size of the snake and some were concerned about how dangerous it might be.

Rescuer reveals reality of wildlife work

While international media attention might seem glamorous from the outside, 41-year-old Tennille hasn't had any time to soak it in. Since Yahoo first reported on her snake rescue a week ago, she's been busily working as a disability carer, bookkeeper and burger flipper, caring for her children aged between four and 21, and looking after the 30 rescued native animals in her care.

The Queensland mum largely self funds her wildlife rescue work and only finds time to sleep between four and six hours a night. Although she'd welcome more funding to care for native animals, she embraces her busy and unusual lifestyle.

When Yahoo spoke to her on Tuesday morning, she had just been splattered in diarrhoea by a large, sick emu she had been attending to and had to call back.

"This is my life, it's just a constant," she said moments later. "It is an incredible amount of work. I end a lot of my days crying, but I’m happy."

Importance of compassion towards snakes

While the international attention is amusing, what's most important to Tennille is that the coverage is compassionate towards snakes, and that it highlights the importance of conservation. Displacement of wildlife because of development and the impact of climate change have made life difficult for many animals.

A man standing in front of a toilet with a snake in it.
Another snake was removed from a toilet in Burleigh Waters by a professional in November. Source: Hudson Snake Catching

Extreme weather in Queensland in recent years has resulted in increased callouts to help reptiles and amphibians who become trapped in toilets after searching out water. Most rescuers who respond to the state's marsupials, birds and reptiles are overrun and volunteer with very little government assistance or charity funding.

If you would like to donate to Tennille's rescuer service Wildlife Empire, you can do so here.

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