A man who bit the head off a dead snake on Wednesday is an ‘idiot’ whose foolish actions wasted police, ambulance and hospital resources, according to an experienced snake handler.
Police and ambulance services were called to the Glenroi area, in central-west NSW, just before noon on Wednesday when a man felt unwell after reportedly biting off the head of a king brown snake before biting it twice more on the stomach and tail.
Although Rodney Williams bragged to Fairfax and other media on Wednesday he had bitten the head off the snake as an alternative to killing it with a shovel, Orange police say their inquiries revealed the snake was already dead when Mr Williams picked it up.
Acting Inspector Brenden Turner said eyewitnesses told police Mr Williams had been drinking with friends outside a house when he saw the dead snake nearby.
“He was intoxicated and as a show of strength to the others who were with him, he bit the head of the snake off,” he said.
Snake handler Greg Pringle, who is a former police officer, said he couldn't believe the amount of pressure the silly prank put on community resources.
“Why should a clown like this take up the valuable time of emergency services people when they may have been needed at that time to help someone who really was in need,” he said.
Acting Inspector Turner said Mr Williams became unwell not long after the incident and friends called Triple-O to assist.
“But that may have been the result of an accelerated level of intoxication,” he said.
Mr Pringle, who has been handling and catching snakes in the Orange area for almost 40 years, said even though the snake was dead when Williams bit its head off he was potentially putting himself in danger.
“The venom sacs are located at the back of the jaw of a snake and can remain in liquid form for up to a week,” Mr Pringle said.
Mr Pringle said he is sceptical about Williams describing the snake as a king brown.
“In all the years I have been working with snakes I have never seen one in or around Orange,” Mr Pringle said.
“But there are plenty of copperhead snakes around and I am fairly sure that is what it would have been,” he said.
Mr Pringle said anyone who finds a snake on their property should not try to catch or antagonise the reptiles.
A spokesperson for NSW Parks and Wildlife said all native snakes in the state are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act and it is illegal to harm them.
Penalties can attract a fine of up to $3000 or six months in jail.