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Snake catcher explains 'irresponsible' video of worker with deadly brown snake at smoko

The highly venomous eastern brown snake is responsible for the most snakebite fatalities every year in Australia – but this worker was not fazed.

An unnerving encounter caught on camera during a 'smoko' break has shocked millions of people, prompting a surprise message to go viral.

Queensland woman Ayla Manson was sitting on the ground, enjoying a break and a cigarette last week, when an eastern brown snake slithered up to her, moving right underneath her legs. Close contact with Australia's deadliest snake would cause most people to run for the hills, but Manson barely moved a muscle.

In a video posted online of the incident, Manson, who works for a local snake catcher, can be seen calmly observing the deadly reptile.

"I think he's on to me," she can be heard saying as she takes another drag of her cigarette. "He's up my pants."

Footage from the video showing Ayla Manson remaining calm while an eastern brown snake slithers under her legs.
Some people labelled the nerve-racking video 'irresponsible'. Source: Facebook

As the snake slides underneath both legs, its head can be seen just centimetres away from her groin.

"I don't like that," she says.

"You're alright," a man's voice can be heard saying.

Manson asks another woman off camera to keep an eye on the snake's head.

"He's ok," she says, referring to the brown snake. "He was sniffing your butt."

"I felt that!" Manson replies, as the snake then slithers on its way seconds later.

Eastern browns 'not killing machines', snake catcher says

Tony Harrison, the Gold Coast snake catcher who filmed the encounter, told Yahoo News Australia the team had recently caught the snake "about half an hour prior" and were releasing it back into the wild. The group were taking a moment when the snake circled back and came in their direction.

"Rather than step up and walk away I said, 'just stay there and we'll film it'," Harrison explained.

"This chick's only new to the game working for us," he said, referring to Ms Manson who has only been working with the snake catcher for about five months. But he knew she wouldn't bat an eyelid.

"If she was wearing shorts or a skirt or something, that would be a different matter," he added, saying if the snake was to smell her exposed skin, things could've ended terribly.

"When they smell your pants its just another inanimate object, but when they smell the skin, that's when they go 'oh s***'."

Ayla Manson smokes while the brown snake slithers underneath her.
The best way to diffuse a close proximity situation with an eastern brown snake is to stay calm, she wrote on Facebook. Source: Facebook/Ayla Manson

Despite the provocative nature of the 30 second clip – which has been watched more than 3.3 million times since being posted to Facebook on Friday night, prompting a wide variety of reactions – Harrison said he just wanted to "prove a point that they're not the big killing machines people think".

"The stigma around snakes being aggressive or violent has sadly taken over most peoples' perception," he wrote alongside the video. "This is a fantastic example, that they don't want to hurt us and the only reason they do attack is they're scared of something significantly larger than them."

However the family-run snake catching business had to defend the posting of the video, with a number of commenters saying it was "irresponsible" to post the footage and could cause some members of the public to underestimate the danger posed by eastern brown snakes.

"We want everyone, kids and adults, to see this so they know how to handle a situation like this," they said.

The bite of eastern brown snakes can be paralysing

As snake season ramps up, Australian Reptile Park’s Billy Collett spoke to Yahoo News Australia last week about the dangers posed by eastern brown snakes.

"They have tiny fangs and venom that is designed to just play with the blood a little bit," he explained. "So it will thicken up your blood and your blood pressure will rise and you will get really short breaths. Then there is a toxin that will attack your diaphragm and your central nervous system, basically paralysing you."

As one of the most common snakes on the east coast of Australia, the highly venomous eastern brown is responsible for the most snakebite fatalities every year.

"We only see about two deaths a year in Australia and about 60 per cent of them result from incidents with brown snakes," Mr Collett said.

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