‘My heart rate went up like billy-o’: 80-year-old Australian survives 30-minute boat ride with deadly tiger snake

‘I didn’t like the bugger,’ says Bob Thatcher

Bethany Dawson@bethanymrd
Wednesday 05 May 2021 15:10

For many people, being trapped in a small boat with a deadly snake is the stuff of nightmares.

But for 80-year-old Australian Bob Thatcher, that frightening scenario was the very outcome of a recent fishing trip.

Mr Thatcher was 11km from the shore of Lake Wellington in Gippsland, Victoria, when he realised he was sharing his 6ft by 4ft boat with a one-meter tiger snake.

With just centimeters between the two of them, they had a fraught relationship from the off.

“I didn’t like the bugger” Mr Thatcher said.

“Very fortunately I was able to keep my cool, I had the snake sitting about 30 centimeters from my feet when I realised it was there and my heart rate went up like billy-o.”

Realising that leaving the boat was not an option, Mr Thatcher embarked on a slow, nerve-wracking journey back to shore with his unwanted passenger.

He threw a jumper on the snake to stop it darting about, but the whole “uncomfortable” situation lasted until shore, when Mr Thatcher’s son arranged for a snake catcher to meet him and deal with the passenger.

The team from Gippsland Snake Catchers was able to safely remove the snake from the boat.

Tiger snakes are highly venomous and unpredictable, with some being docile and friendly and others life-threatening.

Tiger snake venom having the ability to cause someone to collapse within 15 minutes, causing blood clotting and paralysis.

Professor Geoffrey Ibster, snake venom expert and founder of the Australian Snakebite Project at the University of Newcastle, told The Guardian the species was “one of our most venomous snakes. It’s certainly life-threatening and we have had deaths on the east of Australia from tiger snakes seen in the past five years”.

Luckily for Mr Thatcher, the shock of its presence was the most damage this snake inflicted.

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