I have been paranoid about the deadly Eastern Brown Snake, since one wriggled over my toes, when I was four, while watching my father unload bags of wheat out of shed on our farm. It is the second most venomous land snake in the world and can cause death, and severe reactions, such as vomiting and hallucinations. My bike riding keeps me fit and healthy and I am usually on my way by eight in the morning, in the summer time. It had been extremely hot and the day before had been a scorcher at 43.5 degrees C. We have a quiet gravel lane close to our house that is perfect for a peaceful, energetic ride. However, to get there we have to ride through a neighbouring property for about 60 metres and then open his gate and we are off.
I am travelling downhill at a good speed and there is a dead branch in my way, so I veer around it and feel a “stick” hit me in the lower calf just above my ankle, my thoughts were, “gosh I didn’t see a stick in my way” and then only 3 seconds later I felt another “big stick” hit me on my back just below the waist. Either I was going too fast to see what I was running over or I am going blind. I looked at my leg and could see a ten centimetre scratch. By this stage I am flying down the hill towards the gate to the lane, I have to apply the brakes, gently at first and then hard to stop, so I can get off and open the gate. As I tip the bike to dismount, a very comatose, six foot brown snake falls out of the back wheel of my bike and drops to the ground. He had come in from the left, past my left foot, through the pedals and attacked my right leg and then got caught up in the back wheel and hung on and while rotating lashed out and hit my back. He had spun around in my wheel for 40 metres.
The Eastern Brown is the second most deadly snake in Australia and all our first aid lessons, say you must keep the patient still and calm, being alone and not knowing the severity of the attack on my back, I had to start walking for help. I left the bike and the comatose snake at the gate and started walking back up the hill towards my neighbours house, they are an elderly couple but Ian is a retired doctor. By this stage I am screaming out to them and not getting any answer, I started to curse, blaming Ian because it was his property where I was bitten, he wasn’t home and most of all I needed his skills as a doctor. As most of the home owners in the Estate all go out to work, I started to panic. (Big no no) and scream for help. Being school holidays, I was lucky that another neighbour is a teacher, had just done a first aid course and came to my aid, bandaged my leg from toe to thigh and also bandaged around the stomach from the crotch to the waist and called an ambulance.
She potentially saved my life.
The snake couldn’t inject his venom, luckily, I was travelling too fast for him to grasp a hold. After spending 14 hours in the hospital, there weren’t any reactions. But there were a few nights of little to no sleep with nightmares of things crawling out of holes, snakes curled up in my sheets and me falling into holes.
It took me two weeks to get the up nerve to go bike riding again and only when my significant other came with me a couple of times.