Reptile catcher accidentally hands son deadly snake

 

"Everyone makes a mistake. There's no harm done.''

That was the response from Gold Coast hinterland reptile relocator Rohan Henderson after a hair-raising incident in which he allowed his son, 12, to hold a deadly snake he wrongly thought was harmless.

The Tallebudgera reptile relocator had experts gasping after he uploaded video and photos of his son holding a juvenile rough scaled snake in his bare hands, before the boy let it go.

Mr Henderson said on his Facebook page it was a harmless keelback and that they were known for eating toads. The post has since been removed.

"Freshwater Snake or Keelback (tropidonoidis mairii) release (sic) by my boy after we found it in our pool,'' he said in a post on his company's Facebook page which went viral.

"These guys are non-venomous and have been eating Cane Toads!''

On some rankings the rough-scaled snake comes in at Australia's 15th most venomous snake.

Mr Henderson, who has previously worked with the RSPCA, vowed to be more careful in future.

"It's something I have learned from. When you make a mistake you move on,'' he said.

"Nothing happened, he (his son) did not die.

"I will be more careful. Everyone makes a mistake.''

 

Facebook images of the boy handling a highly venomous rough-scaled snake.
Facebook images of the boy handling a highly venomous rough-scaled snake.

A Queensland Museum snake expert was shown the photos uploaded on the Roh's Reptile Removal Facebook page and identified the species as a rough scaled snake, not a keel back.

The museum would not comment further but its website says of the rough scaled snake: "A dangerously venomous species with strongly neurotoxic venom.

"It is a ready biter and is responsible for at least one human death and several severe envemomations.

"If bitten, apply first aid and seek urgent medical attention.''

The website also said the species looked similar to harmless keelback snakes, due to its characteristic raised scales or "keels''.

Herpetologist and fauna consultant Jonathan Lucas, who has 17 years' experience with snakes and was one of Queensland's first accredited commercial snake handling trainers, also confirmed the photos on the Facebook page were of a rough scaled snake.

"It (the video) was pretty wild. A small one will kill you as much as an adult,'' he said.

Facebook photo of the boy handling the rough scaled snake.
Facebook photo of the boy handling the rough scaled snake.

 

Facebook post from Rohan Henderson, since deleted.
Facebook post from Rohan Henderson, since deleted.

A Department of Environment and Science spokeswoman said they were aware of reports of the incident.

"Authorised operators may mis-identify a snake, including venomous snakes,'' she said.

"The risks from this occurring are typically managed by ensuring that only suitably trained individuals approach and handle snakes during their capture and release, and by minimising unnecessary handling of the snake wherever possible.

"The Department is aware of reports of an authorised operator allegedly mis-identifying a venomous snake and allowing a child to handle the snake as part of the release process. "Department wildlife officers are following up these reports.''

 

 

Originally published as Reptile catcher accidentally hands son deadly snake



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