The venom of the eastern brown snake is among the world’s most deadly and capable of causing paralysis, renal failure and even cardiac arrest in adults. So how did four-year-old Jaxon Bird survive being bitten?
Jaxon and his dad had been walking along the driveway of their Langshaw property outside Gympie in south-east Queensland when his father Josh Bird kicked a piece of poly pipe away from the driveway.
The dad realised something was wrong when his little boy said his foot was hurting.
But this was more than a stubbed toe or minor scrape.
“I saw the blood and didn’t think it was a snake straight away,” he said.
“I only realised when he started crying, saying his foot was hurting. He said it was really fast, it looked like a stick and it might have been a snake.
“As soon as he said it might’ve been a snake and it was really fast, I thought ‘There are two marks on his foot and they’re bleeding’ and I instantly thought a snake had bitten him.
“I picked him up and ran up to where the car was to get him to hospital as fast as we could.”
Mr Bird knew what was at stake. He had seen young and fully-grown eastern brown snakes, particularly juveniles, around his property.
With Jaxon in his arms, he yelled out to wife Kirby — they needed to get to hospital.
“We just made the decision to get him in the car and get him to the hospital as quick as we could,” Mr Bird said.
Within half an hour, the bright-eyed boy was connected to cords and machines that would track how his body was reacting.
The fourth toe on his right foot, where his parents could see puncture marks, had begun to swell.
The Gympie Hospital staff swabbed the area, and the sample then sent away for testing and identification.
“All we could do was sit and hope for the best,” Mr Bird said.
“We were looking it up on the internet, just reading about a brown snake and what it can do.
“They can kill a grown-up in less than half an hour — we were pretty worried.”
Eventually there was good news.
The snake had bitten their son with a ‘dry bite’, meaning no venom was injected.
The exhausted family walked from the hospital with their recovering son around 10:30pm — more than nine hours after their boy had been bitten.
Since the incident, Jaxon continues to ramble around the yard — now in long pants and boots.
Mr Bird said his wife had recovered too.
“She’s all right. She’s a typical parent who gets worried, but you can’t stop them at the end of the day.”