Woman Finds Venomous Snake Lurking Under Family Christmas Tree

A family in Australia were shocked this week after discovering a venomous copperhead snake lurking under the Christmas tree.

Felicity Richardson, of Glenlusk, a suburb of Hobart in Tasmania, said she encountered the reptile hiding in between some presents after being alerted by the barking of her pet dogs at around 1 a.m. on Monday.

Richardson said she initially thought it was a mouse or rabbit and only realized it was a snake after getting down to move some of the gifts that were under the tree.

Before contacting local relocation company Reptile Rescue Tasmania, she trapped the snake with a large kitchen cooking pot and, with the help of her 13-year-old daughter, used chopping boards to maneuver the copperhead into a larger container.

"I put it over the snake and then woke my daughter... she absolutely loves snakes and would have been devastated if she missed out," Richardson told ABC News.

"My daughter was stoked, she has always wanted a snake—so she named it Ryan. She suggested Santa finally came through with the goods, and delivered her a snake under the tree, to which I replied, 'I don't think so buddy!'" she continued.

Richardson shared images to Facebook this week showing the snake after it had been moved safely into the plastic box. "So from a snake under the Christmas tree, to a snake under a pot, to four chopping boards under the snake, to snake in a box. I officially want to live in an innercity apartment," she explained in a caption.

Felicity Richardson
Felicity Richardson posted images of the captured snake on December 13, 2020. Felicity Richardson/Facebook/Screenshot

Speaking with The Guardian, Justin Kneebone from Reptile Rescue Tasmania said it is common for snakes to seek shade and shelter from the heat outside.

Kneebone told ABC News he gave the family some initial advice on how to confine the snake until a removal expert could travel to help relocate it back into the wild.

"A little copperhead is totally different to a large tiger snake," he said, stressing that the tactic of confining a snake would not be recommended for a larger species.

Richardson said she left a sliding door to the home open after warm weather on Sunday. "We are now very careful, making sure the sliding door or screen is always shut and the dog door is locked at night-time," she told The Guardian after the encounter.

The copperhead typically prefers to avoid encounters with humans and will hiss loudly or thrash its body before attacking with a bite, the Australian Museum says. Experts warn that while it may not attack straight away, it's still considered a danger.

"Further provocation will cause the snake to lash out and bite. The venom is powerfully neurotoxic, hemolytic and cytotoxic, and a bite from an adult of any of the species may be potentially fatal without medical assistance," the snake species profile warns.

Highlands Copperhead
Highlands Copperhead stock image. A family in Australia were shocked this week after discovering a venomous copperhead snake lurking under their Christmas tree. iStock