Eastern browns are on the move
Eastern browns are on the move Samuel Hunt

Snake catcher's wife struck by deadly eastern brown

THE wife of a Gympie snake catcher was lucky her husband was within yelling distance when she was struck by a deadly snake yesterday morning.

Sheila Smith stepped out of her Canina home, and within seconds was met by a startled 1.5m eastern brown snake that struck her ankle.

Mrs Smith's husband Edward Smith, who runs Gympie Snake Catchers was quick to act, not in his usual way of wrangling the snake, but by administering first aid.

Their daughter Julie Smith, also a snake catcher at Noosa, said it was one of the crucial things that meant Mrs Smith was recovering in hospital instead of worse.

"The speed the first aid is administered can be critical," she said.

The type of bite was the second saving grace, the victim's daughter said.

"They're not very efficient with their bite, it's highly likely that not everything got into her system," she said.

"When startled if they make a reflex strike their fixed front fangs might not penetrate or make full contact."


Snake catcher Edd Smith introduces himself to the snake.
Snake catcher Edd Smith introduces himself to the snake. Donna Jones

EXPLAINED: 9 things you must do when bitten by a snake

Tests at the Gympie Hospital, where Mrs Smith was rushed, revealed venom in her system but also that it was not dangerously affecting her blood stream, which could lead to renal failure.

With Mr Smith able to identify the snake an accurate anti-venom could also be administered at the hospital, which also helped the recovery process, Julie Smith said.

"It does make a difference - the hospital know what to treat for and what symptoms to look for," Ms Smith said. 

Julie Smith said the irony of her mother getting bitten showed no one was immune from snake bites.

"It can happen to anyone.

"Obviously mum and dad keep their grounds clear and tidy and keep pests away because they're aware of snakes."

She said it had been a very busy year for eastern brown movement, according to most snake catchers.

Eastern browns are considered the second most venomous snake in the world and are responsible for about 60% of snake-bite deaths in Australia.


  • Red-bellied black: third most likely to strike in Australia,
  • Eastern brown: second most venomous in the world, can be sent unconscious within 15 minutes of getting bitten
  • Coastal taipan: third most venomous in Australia, can be aggressive
  • Python: common all through the year in region, can latch on and don't let go
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