A Kimberley man suffered bites to his hand during a desperate battle with a 2.5 metre python that tried to eat one of his kittens last week.
Nick Kearns, from Kununurra, in Western Australia’s far north, said he did not hesitate when he heard his partner Karyn screaming in the early hours of the morning.
The python was in the garden and had coiled itself around Lil — short for “the little one” — and Mr Kearns, although not exactly suitably attired, raced to the rescue.
“I jumped up — naked of course — and ran outside,” Mr Kearns said.
“I just couldn’t unwrap it.
“I reckon I didn’t have very long — I could see the cat was starting to slow down a bit.”
While his partner held onto the reptile’s tail, Mr Kearns tried everything he could to to free the kitten.
“I found the centre of the coil near where her head would have been and just put my hand in there and grabbed the head,” he said.
The snake uncoiled, but as Mr Kearns relaxed his grip it managed to bite his right hand.
He said the subsequent tetanus injection and scrapes from falling over hurt more than the bite itself.
“It was only later on I noticed there was blood everywhere,” he said.
“It was all mine, from cuts and bites.”
Mr Kearns had completed a snake handling course a couple of years ago and said he never doubted that it was a python, and therefore knew the serpent was not venomous.
“I did think at the time it would be nice if part of the lesson had been how to rescue a kitten,” he said.
“There was no way I was going to stand by and let it eat the kitten.”
Mr Kearns says Lil remains a bit spooked and skittish.
He now checks his property every morning for snakes.
“They’re just doing their thing, it wasn’t actually anything against the snake,” he said.
“But I’m just making sure we try and keep it as safe as we can.”
He said the most important thing was not to panic and keep a tight grip.
“If you grab the back of the head they can’t bite you,” he said.
“The real lesson is ‘don’t let go’.”