A three-year-old boy from Australia was able to escape unharmed from a very sticky situation recently. The boy, Kyle Cummings, found a collection of eggs in his home’s yard. What he did not know was what the eggs were hiding; deadly snakes.
Trish Prendergast, a reptile specialist, said on Friday that Cummings could have died if he had touched the eastern brown snakes that hatched from the eggs he found in the yard. The eastern brown snakes are the second most venomous species on land following Australia’s inland taipan.
Cummings discovered a grouping of nine eggs a couple of weeks ago in the grass of his family’s three-acre property not far from the city of Townsville in Queensland state, according to Prendergast. Cummings did not know what the eggs were.
The eggs were found Monday by his mother, Donna Sim, in the boy’s closet in a takeout food container. Seven of the nine eggs hatched, but the snakes were still in the closed container. Prendergast said that the final two eggs were infertile and rotten.
“I was pretty shocked, particularly because I don’t like snakes,” Sim told the Townsville Bulletin newspaper.
Prendergast is the reptile coordinator for the volunteer group North Queensland Wildlife Care, based in Townsville. Prendergast was given the container of snakes on Tuesday and she released them into the wild later that night. She was very happy that no one had handled the snakes.
“Their fangs are only a few millimeters long at that age, so they probably couldn’t break the skin, but they’re just as venomous as full-grown snakes,” Prendergast said.
“If venom had got on Kyle’s skin where there was a cut or if he put it in his mouth, it could have been fatal,” she added.
Eastern brown snakes can grow to over 6.5 feet long. They typically remain with their eggs, but can leave every now and then to eat.
“He’s very lucky he didn’t encounter the mother while he was taking her eggs. That also could have been fatal,” Prendergast said.
Prendergast noted that the snakes in the container were measured at five to six inches long and more than likely hatched five days prior to being released into the wild. She said that other than being very thirsty, the snakes were healthy. On average there are three fatal snake bites per year in Australia and eastern brown snakes are the cause of most of the fatal bites. Sim did not comment on the incident.