Man finds slithery surprise in his salad bag
CANBERRA, Australia [AP] – When Alex White returned home from a trip to a Sydney supermarket, he quickly realized he wasn’t alone.
As he unpacked plastic-wrapped lettuce he had bought, he thought he saw a huge worm wiggling around — until its tongue flickered. It was a snake, and a venomous one at that.
“I kind of completely freaked out when I saw this little tongue come out of its mouth and start flicking around and realized it was a snake because worms don’t have tongues,” White said on Thursday.
“I definitely kind of panicked a bit,” he added.
It was a venomous pale-headed snake that authorities say made an 870-kilometer (540-mile) journey to Sydney from a packing plant in the Australian city of Toowoomba wrapped in plastic with two heads of cos lettuce, Associated Press reported.
Officials said the cool temperatures of the supermarket refrigerators likely lulled the snake into a stupor. White bought the lettuce at an ALDI supermarket on Monday evening and rode his bicycle home with salad and snake in his backpack.
He and his partner Amelia Neate noticed the snake moving as soon as White began unpacking groceries onto the kitchen table.
They also noticed there was a hole in the bag, so the snake could’ve escaped. They quickly stuffed the reptile with the lettuce into a plastic food storage container.
White phoned the WIRES rescue organization and a snake handler took the snake away that night.
Before the handler arrived, White said WIRES had explained to him: “If you get bitten, you’ve got to go to hospital really quickly.”
ALDI is investigating how a snake could have found its way into a supermarket.
“We’ve worked with the customer and the team at WIRES to identify the snake’s natural habitat, which is certainly not an ALDI store!” the German-based supermarket chain said in a statement.
While the snake was only 8 inches long, it was “as venomous as it will ever be,” WIRES reptile coordinator Gary Pattinson said.
Pattinson will look after the snake until its returned to Queensland state next week. WIRES’ policy is to return wildlife to where they come from.
“It’s the first snake I’ve ever had in sealed, packed produce,” Pattinson said. “We get frogs in them all the time.”
Neate, who is a German immigrant, said her encounter with a venomous snake was a setback in her efforts to assure her relatives back in Europe that Australia’s notoriously deadly Outback wildlife was nothing to worry about.
“For the last 10 years or so, I’ve told my family at home that Australia’s a really safe country,” Neate said.
“I’ve always said I’m just in the city; it’s totally fine here,” she added.