Woman hailed a hero for her outstanding response after her husband suffered one of the worst snake bites.
Woman hailed a hero for her outstanding response after her husband suffered one of the worst snake bites.

Snake catcher’s fight with death revealed

If just one thing hadn't gone to plan for Redlands snake catcher Ben Avery two Thursdays ago, he would certainly be dead.

The experienced snake handler was feeding his highly venomous pet eastern tiger snake at his Birkdale home when he was bitten on the hand.

"I'd been feeding some baby snakes before that and the smell of the mice gets in the air," Mr Avery said.

He said when it was time to feed his "greedy guts" tiger snake, whose species is the third-most venomous in the country, it launched up and grabbed his thumb.

The eastern tiger snake that nearly killed Ben Avery. Picture: Supplied
The eastern tiger snake that nearly killed Ben Avery. Picture: Supplied

"When tiger snakes are in feeding mode they hang on. It was on me for about half a second before I could get it off."

First aid for a venomous snake bite was something he and his wife Melissa had rehearsed time and time again when they decided to keep venomous snakes but not once did they think they would ever need it.

"I've kept venomous snakes for four years and researched them for longer and I've never heard of anyone being knocked over that quick," Mr Avery - who is fit, stands more than 180cm tall and weighs 110kg - said.

"Before you knew it I was vomiting and convulsing, that was after 10 minutes."

His "bloody hero" was his cool-under-pressure wife Melissa.

"Bandages were applied by Melissa within 30 seconds of the bite while on the phone to the ambulance," Mr Avery said.

"We've rehearsed it many times."

Experienced snake handler Ben Avery is extremely lucky to be alive after he was bitten on the thumb by his pet eastern tiger snake. Picture: Supplied
Experienced snake handler Ben Avery is extremely lucky to be alive after he was bitten on the thumb by his pet eastern tiger snake. Picture: Supplied

"I kept 100 per cent calm and lay on the lounge as per all the many courses and research I had done over the past six of seven years learning about venomous snake bite.

"The first aid was 100 per cent to the letter.

"I had been told by many people, snake people who had been bitten and kept snakes, videos, first aid courses... simple... do the first aid, you've got time, get to hospital. No drama.

Not in this case."

Mr Avery said the from when the bite happened to when he became life-threateningly ill was "scary", and had it not been for his wife, "it would have been lights out".

Ben Avery now thanks his wife Melissa for saving his life after she calmly applied snake bite first aid after Mr Avery was bitten by an eastern tiger snake. Picture: Supplied
Ben Avery now thanks his wife Melissa for saving his life after she calmly applied snake bite first aid after Mr Avery was bitten by an eastern tiger snake. Picture: Supplied

"After 10 minutes vomiting set in, after 15 minutes I was losing consciousness.

"My arm felt like it was in a vice. Worst pain of my life.

He said "it was touch and go" by the time he reached Redlands Hospital.

"My kidneys shut down and pretty much melted from the venom.

"My platelets dropped so low I was bleeding like a stuck pig and in the end I needed four blood transfusions.

"It was a mess."

A bite to the thumb by an eastern tiger snake nearly killed Ben Avery. Picture: Supplied
A bite to the thumb by an eastern tiger snake nearly killed Ben Avery. Picture: Supplied

Mr Avery, who will undertake kidney dialysis for another three or four weeks, said had it not been for the calm and perfectly executed response at home, he would not have survived the bite, which took effect much faster than he could ever have expected.

"The toxicology team at the PA Hospital said it was the worst bite on record to be survived and there's actually a case study being done on me for future reference for anyone else in that drama.

"Many thanks to Queensland Ambulance Service, Redlands Hospital and the renal team at the P.A hospital for saving my life. Not to mention my wife Melissa, who applied the ultimate life saving first aid.

Mr Avery, who is also a father, said he would no longer be keeping venomous snakes.

"I can't risk putting my family and friends through that again."

"Anyone want to buy a tiger snake?"

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Originally published as Dialysis, vomiting, unconscious in 10 minutes: Snake catcher's fight with death



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