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Deadly dilemma

Steve McEwan?s too-close-for-comfort encounter with a red-bellied black snake features on television tonight.
Steve McEwan?s too-close-for-comfort encounter with a red-bellied black snake features on television tonight.

By CRAIG McTEAR

STEVE McEwan will expose himself tonight on national television, and yes, a trouser snake is to blame.

The Coffs Harbour snake researcher is forced to drop his dacks in the name of self-preservation when a red-bellied black snake gets too close for comfort.

This extraordinary encounter features on The World Around Us: Australia's Deadliest Destinations, on Prime at 6.30pm.

Here's the scene: Steve, accompanied by a film crew, responds to a call from an anxious Korora family who've seen a snake crawl under one of their tarpaulins.

The 44-year-old thinks nothing of grabbing it by the tail and bagging it as he provides a running commentary on the dangerous reptile.

But soon after, a second red-bellied black snake appears at his feet. Steve instantly freezes, hoping it moves away of its own accord, but it doesn't.

It slithers up his right leg instead.

Realising he's in trouble, Steve calls on his wife, Debbie, to carefully remove his trousers while he's seated, and he keeps his legs as rigid as he can.

"My pulse is up a little bit," Steve tells the concerned bystanders.

His boot comes off and ever so carefully ? and ever so slowly ? his pants are removed with the snake still hanging on inside.

When his heart eventually comes out of his mouth, Steve grabs the reptile and puts it out of harm's way.

At his home this week, Steve revealed the snake had almost reached his groin, but keeping his cool had been essential in avoiding a bite.

"You've got to keep still. They react to movement," he said.

Steve made news around the world in 1976 when the then teenager was photographed in a life-and-death struggle with a scrub python trying to have him for lunch.

"Four days after that, I was bitten by a highly venomous tiger snake. It's the only time a snake's bitten me," Steve said.

"But three days after that, I was bitten by a redback spider."



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