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Snake catcher struck by deadly eastern brown 'felt nothing'

TRAVESTON: This photo was taken moments after snake catcher William Pledger was bitten by the Eastern brown snake he is still holding.
TRAVESTON: This photo was taken moments after snake catcher William Pledger was bitten by the Eastern brown snake he is still holding. Contributed

WHEN William Pledger was struck by an adult eastern brown snake last week, his shock was not from the bite or from his kidneys shutting down; it was from feeling nothing.

The experienced snake catcher was bitten last Tuesday afternoon when he was called to rescue the metre-long predator from under a raised garden bed at a Traveston property.

Using a shovel to gently pin the back of the curled up creature's head, he said a simple misjudgement of leaving "too much of him to turn around" meant within seconds he saw the highly-venomous snake hanging out the top of his hand.

"I didn't feel the bite at all," he said of the 3mm wide fangs that pierced his knuckle.

 

Mr Pledger's knuckle, where he was struck by the needle-like fangs of the deadly eastern brown snake.
Mr Pledger's knuckle, where he was struck by the needle-like fangs of the deadly eastern brown snake. Contributed

With no pain and no symptoms, the snake catcher carried on relocating the reptile, assuming it was a 'dry bite' and only took himself to hospital when a flatmate convinced him to.

A first test showed nothing, but a second mandatory test confirmed a deadly cocktail of neurotoxins, myotoxins, and coagulants was making its way around Mr Pledger's bloodstream and, then at eight hours since the bite his kidneys started to shut down.

"They were looking at putting me on dialysis to save my life," Mr Pledger said.

"(If I hadn't received the antivenom), you would have been going to my funeral today," he said.

Mr Pledger, who returned to work this week after spending 48 hours in hospital, said to date he had felt no physical affect from the bite, a story he said matches other descriptions of eastern brown bites.

His concern has now turned to the public, who may be in the same deadly situation without knowing it.

"It's opened my eyes to the dangers," he said.

"Nobody in the general public should risk (moving a snake themselves)."

 

Mr Pledger waits for test results at the Sunshine Coast, despite feeling no pain or symptoms from a snake bite.
Mr Pledger waits for test results at the Sunshine Coast, despite feeling no pain or symptoms from a snake bite. Contributed

Until last week Mr Pledger had never been bitten by a venomous snake in his 15 years working in the risky job.

"It's good to get a wake-up call every now and again, but I don't want one like this for a few more years," he said.

Asked if he was feeling lucky to survive the bite of the world's second deadliest snake he joked:

"I don't know if that is the lucky part or that you're lucky you've still got someone to catch your snakes."

Topics:  deadly eastern brown editors picks gympie region snake bite venomous wildlife

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