‘Snake Hunter’ Bitten by Tiger Snake Is Facing Multiple Organ Failure

‘Snake Hunter’ Bitten by Tiger Snake Is Facing Multiple Organ Failure

A snake hunter has been rushed to hospital after being bitten by a venomous snake, as a result of his equipment failing.

Mark Pelley, a local of Victoria in southeastern Australia who goes by The Snake Hunter on Facebook—where he posts pictures and videos of his reptile-rescuing missions—was bitten by a venomous tiger snake on Sunday morning.

Pelley was attacked after a piece of equipment he was using to transport the snake broke. It allowed the reptile to lunge at him and inject him with its venom, and Pelley is now suffering organ failure in the hospital.

“10AM SUNDAY MORNING WAS THE LAST TIME I SAW HIM BREATHE NORMALLY,” Pelley’s daughter Aishah posted to the Snake Hunter Facebook page on Wednesday.

“Dad is in hospital in ICU from a Tiger snake bite. His pinning stick broke on catching the Snake so it got immediate access to his hand. The venom went straight [into] his circulation system from a deep bite and started to have neurological effects immediately. I watched him lose consciousness very fast in front of my eyes,” Aishah wrote.

Tiger snakes are highly venomous snakes native to southern regions of Australia, including the state of Victoria where Pelley is based. They belong to the family Elapidae, which includes other venomous snakes such as cobras and coral snakes, and are named for their distinctive striped or banded appearance.

Between 2005 and 2015, 17 percent of snakebite victims in Australia were bitten by tiger snakes, with four of the 119 victims dying. Of all the snake species in Australia, only brown snakes kill more people than tiger snakes. Without treatment, the mortality rate from a tiger snake bite is estimated to be between 40 and 60 percent. However, this is much lower with medical intervention such as snake bandages and antivenom.

Pelley was rushed to hospital after the bite, and was treated with two doses of antivenom. Aishah said her father was experiencing severe hemorrhaging, as well as a loss of taste, sensation and the ability to see.

“I saw dad stop breathing multiple times,” Aishah wrote in the Facebook post. “He couldn’t talk, breathe properly and the hospital asked me to discuss him possibly go on ventilation.

Pelley was also experiencing “multi organ failure,” “muscle damage and nerve damage,” and was “incredibly drowsy and weak,” according to the post.

Tiger snake venom is highly potent and contains a mixture of toxins that can have a variety of effects on the body, including neurotoxins that affect the nervous system and hemotoxins, which can cause damage to blood vessels and disrupt the clotting process.

Neurotoxins interfere with the transmission of nerve signals, leading to symptoms such as paralysis, weakness, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, and loss of coordination; while hemotoxins can cause bleeding from the site of the bite, bruising, and internal bleeding. Tiger snake venom can also cause pain, swelling, and tissue necrosis at the site of the bite.

Pelley is recovering well, according to a reel posted to Facebook on Friday, which shows him being able to walk again.

“He still can’t see properly, has lost his voice for a bit, eye function is not good, numbness, no taste, BUT… Dad was so proud he’s on his feet and walking again!!!” Aishah wrote on the caption of the video. “Dad’s bloods have returned to near normal. His kidneys are 100 percent and his muscle wastage has significantly reduced.”

Aishah has set up a GoFundMe page to support her dad and their family during his recovery.

“This is a really hard time for my sisters and I, and it will not be easy moving forward. After reading through comments and seeing suggestions I have set up a gofundme As Dad is the sole provider for our family and elderly grandmother,” Aishah wrote on Facebook. “Once dad gets out of hospital, it may be a long time before he is able to work properly again.”

The family has raised $32,860 AUD [$21,562] of their $38,000 AUD [$24,935] goal so far.

This article by Jess Thomson was first published by Newsweek on 15 March 2024. Lead Image: A tiger snake with its jaws open. These are one of the most venomous serpents in Australia, and a snake hunter has been rushed to hospital after being bitten. ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS.

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