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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Toddler hunts deadly snake leads to discovery of nest containing 110 eggs

An Australian family was “quite devastated” after finding their toddler chasing a deadly eastern brown snake last week.

Wild Conservation snake catchers were called to the Sydney property on March 9th. “[They] said they had a problem with brown snakes, which we get a lot, but that came out a little differently,” Wild said in a Facebook post.

After digging around the property, snake catcher Kane Durrant found over 100 hatched eastern brown snake eggs in the family’s backyard, along with two larger deadly snakes.

“Residents first found about 10 baby snakes in the front yard two months ago,” Durrant said news week. “Then this week her 2-year-old found one in the house and tried to catch it.”

Eastern brown snakes are responsible for more snakebite deaths than any other species in Australia. Their venom, considered the second most toxic venom in the world, contains a potent neurotoxin that slowly shuts down the victim’s heart, lungs, and diaphragm, causing the person to suffocate.

The species is found throughout eastern Australia – hence its name. Their native habitat overlaps with some of the most densely populated parts of the country, so finding them in people’s homes and properties is not uncommon.

The house in question was in a semi-rural area with grassland nearby. “The concrete provided the snakes with a warm, sheltered place to nest safely with food nearby,” Durrant said.

When Durrant arrived at the property, he quickly found 110 hatched eastern brown snake eggs, which is far more than would normally be found in a single nest. “Eastern brown snakes can lay up to 30 eggs, with 15 being more common,” he said.

The eggs were therefore likely laid by multiple females over a number of years, indicating a shared or at least annual nesting site.

Under a concrete slab, Durrant also found a 3-foot-long red-bellied black snake — another highly venomous species — and a 2-foot-long adult eastern brown that he said may have fed on the newly hatched baby snakes.

It’s not common to find multiple species of snakes in the same garden, but nothing unusual,” he said. “We recently removed an eastern brown and red belly from the same hole under a children’s slide at a local park.”

Durrant said the snake catchers were working with the family to safely monitor the snakes’ removal from the property.

“We made a plan with the resident to remove the trail with a machine while Wild Conservation monitors for snakes being caught. We’ve already removed four venomous snakes from the property,” he said.

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