Snake catcher’s heart-stopping moment after equipment fail causes 'deep' venomous bite

Mark Pelley's tool broke while he was trying to reach for the tiger snake

A seasoned snake catcher is fighting for his life in intensive care after he was bitten by a highly venomous tiger snake while responding to a relocation request over the weekend.

Mark Pelley, commonly known as 'The Snake Hunter', was called out to a property in Diamond Creek in Melbourne's northeast on Sunday morning and was just about to catch the snake when one of his tools — a pinning stick used to safely control snakes — broke which resulted in the snake biting his hand. The effects of its venom were almost instant.

"I was there when he collapsed," his 21-year-old daughter Aishah told Yahoo News. "He was unresponsive... Sunday morning was the last time I saw him breathe normally."

Left, Aishah smiles at the camera. Right, snake catcher Mark Pelley holding a venomous tiger snake using his tool.
Snake catcher Mark Pelley was bitten by a venomous tiger snake on Sunday while his daughter Aishah watched on. Source: Facebook

Paramedics arrived within minutes and immediately started treating the 41-year-old. They believe the "deep bite" likely punctured a vein meaning the venom went "straight into his circulation" and the spread of it around his body was accelerated.

Mark's pupils dilated to nine millimetres and he suffered haemorrhaging and multiple organ failure. Unable to breathe properly medical staff discussed with Aishah about putting him on a ventilator.

Bite is 'reminder' to all how vital yet dangerous snake catching is

Aishah confirmed to Yahoo News her dad is starting to "stabilise" after two vials of antivenom and has regained consciousness but is still incredibly weak. After following her dad's footsteps and becoming a snake catcher herself, she said the "stressful" turn of events has acted as a reminder of the dangers involved with snake catching.

"It's a reminder, every snake catcher knows the risk, but it hasn't deterred me. I think it would be the same for my dad as well," she said.

Left, the puncture wounds can be seen on Mark's right finger after he was bitten at a property in Diamond Creek, Victoria. . Right, the antivenom with Mark's name on it in the hospital.
The snake catcher was rushed to hospital after he showed immediate neurological effects from the bite. Source: Facebook

It is the first time in Mark's 14-year career he has been hospitalised due to a snake bite, with the only other time he received antivenom being "precautionary".

Tiger snakes are incredibly dangerous due to their large size and powerful venom, which has potent neurotoxic and coagulant effects. The species accounts for an estimated 17 per cent of snake bites in Australia and they have been responsible for four deaths, according to Australia Wide First Aid.

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