Australia lives up to its wild reputation.

By Tim Nelson
April 19, 2021

Australia has something of a reputation as a home for all sorts of wild and creepy creatures. Sure, kangaroos are cute, and koalas are cuddly, but you wouldn't want to try and wrap your arms around a box jellyfish or take a selfie with a saltwater crocodile. 

Now, it seems not even Australia's salads are safe —  at least if the experience of one Sydney supermarket shopper who unwittingly purchased a venomous snake is any guide. 

Baby Snake peaking over a big green leaf
Credit: Harshhh360/Getty Images

According to the Associated Press, Alex White was in for quite a shock when he put down a plastic-wrapped bag of lettuce he'd purchased from Aldi on his kitchen counter. At first, he thought the creature wriggling around inside was just a very big worm. But when he saw the telltale flick of the tongue, that's when White did what any normal person would do in the situation: panicked. 

Luckily, White and his partner acted quickly enough to trap the bag of lettuce and its slithery, venomous cargo into a plastic food storage container— and not a moment too soon given that the plastic wrapping was a bit torn up. A snake handler came by to collect the cargo that night, but not without warning White that "if you get bitten, you've got to go to hospital really quickly." The snake is a Hoplocephalus bitorquatus, also known as a pale-headed snake.

How the heck does a slippery fella like that end up amid some leafy greens? Aldi doesn't know for sure, but they're investigating. One theory is that the snake somehow traveled from a packing plant in Toowoomba, 540 miles from Sydney. Given that the lettuce supply chain is pretty well refrigerated throughout, the cold-blooded creature was probably in a bit of a daze, but woke up as things got warmer again. 

"It's the first snake I've ever had in sealed, packed produce. We get frogs in them all the time" said Gary Pattinson, a reptile coordinator for local wildlife rescue organization WIRES. He further confirmed that the snake was "as venomous as it will ever be," so it's good news that it'll be on its way back to its natural habitat at some point soon. 

So in addition to checking the expiration date on any bagged produce, Australians might want to give it a quick once-over just to make sure there aren't any venomous snakes trapped inside. In the land down under, you can never be too careful. 

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