A couple in Sydney received the fright of their life when they discovered a rare venomous snake inside a shopping bag containing lettuce they brought from a supermarket.
According to reports, the juvenile reptile was found tucked inside the package of lettuce, which Alexander White and his partner Amelie Neate, purchased from an Aldi supermarket in Sydney on Monday.
“It was moving around and flicking its little tongue out. It was actually its tongue which let me know it wasn’t a giant worm. I would have been more comfortable with a worm, to be honest,” White told The Guardian.
The young pale-headed snake, which apparently came free with the lettuce was identified as an Hoplocephalus bitorquatus. It was about 20 cm long and appeared to have been sleeping peacefully in the lettuce at the supermarket’s refrigerated fresh produce cabinet until White picked it up. He carried it around the store, then shoved it in his backpack for a short 10-minute bicycle ride home.
“We didn’t have a trolley because neither of us had a dollar coin, so we were just carrying it and recollecting it kind of freaked me out,” White said.
The snake emerged as they were unpacking their groceries at home and the couple called a wildlife rescue organisation WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) for help. They were told that the snake was possibly a baby eastern brown, which is one of the most venomous and aggressive species in Australia.
According to the Australian Museum, there aren’t any known human fatalities resulting from the pale-headed snakes. They are a shy species, but their bite is quite venomous and is prone to produce some unpleasant symptoms such as “severe headache, blurred vision, localised pain, and abnormal bleeding”.
The snake was picked up by wildlife officials and will be returned to the wild. And with the help of Aldi, they traced the origin of the lettuce back to Toowoomba and are organising transport home for the snake. Meanwhile, the supermarket giant has launched an investigation to know how the snake found its way into the plastic bag.
However, WIRES left behind the lettuce and White later used it in a salad wrap.