A man has died after being bitten by a snake several times after the reptile “wound its way around his arm”, family members said.
- The deceased man was bitten “at least five times, on his leg and on his hand”, his brother said
- When found, the 79yo man — who was late returning from mustering sheep on his farm — still had the snake in his grip
- The man’s brother says he was present at the last recorded snake bite fatality in 1977, when his friend died while handling tiger snakes
The Tasmanian man, 79-year-old Winston Fish, was mustering sheep at Oatlands, in the state’s centre, on Tuesday when he was bitten several times by a large snake, a family member told the ABC.
Brian Fish told the ABC he was still trying to piece together what happened to his brother, who was “late coming home”.
“A friend came up to see where he was and found him on the ground with the snake tangled around his arm,” Mr Fish told ABC Radio Hobart.
“It’s very, very hard when there was nobody there to know what exactly happened.”
Mr Fish said after the alarm was raised “paramedics came in with the helicopter and worked on him for a while”.
His brother was “flown to Hobart and unfortunately never came out of it”.
Mr Fish said his brother was “bit at least five times, on his leg and on his hand” by a tiger snake.
“It’s something you see in a horror movie. It just doesn’t happen”.
Mr Fish had previously received treatment for cancer, his brother said.
A spokesman for the Department of Health confirmed the death.
“A man was treated at the Royal Hobart Hospital for a snakebite, he subsequently died and the matter has been referred to the coroner,” the spokesman said.
Family link to 1977 snakebite death
Mr Fish said the loss of his brother brought back memories of Tasmania’s last snakebite death in 1977, for which he was present.
“It brings it back very vividly. It’s a similar thing that happened with Gordon [the man who died in 1977], who was a personal friend,” he said.
“We were at Brighton Show and he had tiger snakes. He had gone to the university and borrowed some big tiger snakes.
“He had one in his hand and was demonstrating with it and for some reason he got the other one out of the box, which is something he never ever did.
“One big fellow got around his wrist and pulled back through his hand and bit him.”
Mr Fish said his friend “went from bad to worse”.
“Gordon was right there with plenty of help, the medics were right on the job.
“He suffered from asthma and the asthma kicked in.”
Tasmania’s three species of snake — tiger, white-lipped and copperhead — are all venomous.
Chris Daly from Reptile Rescue Tasmania said snake activity had increased across the state in recent days.
“I wouldn’t say we’re inundated or we’ve got a snake problem on our hands,” he said.
“We got about 9,500 call outs last year, we’re on track for the same this year.”