An Australian teenage boy is fighting for his life after being bitten by a taipan snake – the venom of which can kill 100 men in a single drop.
The 17-year-old took himself to hospital north of Sydney after being bitten on his left hand by the snake, the most dangerous in the world.
But as the minutes and then the hours ticked by his condition rapidly deteriorated.
The fact that he even survived the first hour has amazed wildlife experts, for death can come within 45 minutes from severe haemorrhaging and paralysis.
While experts are astonished at his survival, they are also baffled that he was bitten in the small town of Kurri Kurri, more than 600 miles from the snake’s natural arid habitat in north west New South Wales and western Queensland.
The teenager brought the snake with him when he attended hospital, but it has not been revealed whether it had been killed or whether it was still alive in a container.
Police are hoping the teenager will recover with anti-venom treatment and other intensive medical care so that he can explain how he came to be bitten by a snake that was so far away from its natural home.
Hospital officials at the Calvary Mater Hospital in the city of Newcastle, 100 miles north of Sydney, said today that the boy’s health remained a serious concern as the poison continues to wrack his body, the Newcastle Herald reported.
Known as an inland taipan, the snake’s venom is considered to be more toxic than any other poisonous reptile in the world.
Known as a ‘fierce snake’ among reptile experts, a drop of its venom is deadly to scores of humans and can kill as many as 250,000 mice.
Miss Julie Mendezona, head keeper of reptiles and spiders at the Australian Reptile Park, said the venom of the snake – which can grow to a terrifying 8ft in length – was a neurotoxin that acted quickly on the brain.
‘Effectively what it will do is start shutting down the function of messages going to your brain, to your vital organs, your lungs, your heart and even your muscles.
‘It can kill someone within maybe 45 minutes and there have even been reports of people experiencing effects of the venom within half an hour.’
Miss Mendezona said bites from the taipan were rare because its natural habitat was not highly populated and it is believed no-one has died from a bite from the species.
Anti-venom for taipan bites is kept at zoos that keep the reptile, as well as hospitals near where the snake is found in the wild.
Mr Mark Williams, a spokesman for Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo, said investigations were continuing into how the teenager came to be bitten by the snake so far from its natural environment.
‘You can actually keep venomous snakes under the correct licence, but a 17-year-old boy would not have the correct licence at all so he shouldn’t have been touching it’ said Mr Williams.
‘You could probably speculate it was an illegal pet, but we can’t know for sure at this stage.