Man Dies After Large Venomous Tiger Snake Coils Around His Arm: 'It's Something You See in a Horror Movie'

An elderly man from Tasmania has died after being bitten several times by a tiger snake that coiled itself around his arm, his brother confirmed.

Winston Fish, a 79-year-old from the Australian island state, was herding sheep on his farm in Oatlands, a village just north of Tasmania's capital Hobart, on Tuesday when he encountered the snake that bit him "at least five times on his leg and on his hand," his brother Brian Fish told Australia's ABC News.

The Tasmanian farmer was discovered by a friend who his brother Brian had sent to look for him after realizing his brother hadn't come home yet.

"A friend came up to see where he was and found him [Winston] on the ground with the snake tangled around his arm," Fish told ABC.

"It's something you see in a horror movie. It just doesn't happen," the brother described.

The friend managed to get the snake off of him but there was "no antivenom at the hospital in Oatlands," according to the brother, The Guardian reports.

Paramedics attempted to treat the farmer at the scene before he was flown to the Royal Hobart Hospital, where he remained for two days before he died. A spokesman for Australia's Department of Health confirmed that the matter has been referred to the coroner.

Tasmania has reportedly seen an increase in snake activity in recent days. A snake handler in Tasmania was also bitten by a tiger snake on Friday while being interviewed by Win News Tasmania, according to a tweet by Meg Sydes, a reporter for the TV station.

The region's reptile rescue agency told ABC there had been an increase in snake activity in recent days. "I wouldn't say we're inundated or we've got a snake problem on our hands," Chris Daly from Reptile Rescue Tasmania said. "We got about 9,500 call outs last year, we're on track for the same this year."

Tasmania is home to three snake species—the tiger snake, the lowland copperhead snake and the white-lipped snake—all of which are venomous. The last snake bite death in Tasmania before the latest incident was reportedly back in 1977, which was witnessed by the brother of the late Tasmanian farmer.

"It [Winston Fish's death] brings it [the 1977 incident] 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.

"One big fellow got around his wrist and pulled back through his hand and bit him," he recalled.

The snake handler we were interviewing in regards to a snakebite death just got bitten by a tiger snake and is being treated by paramedics. We are currently in possession of the snake. @WINNews_Tas

— Meg Sydes (@MegESydes) January 31, 2020

Tiger snakes are among Australia's most venomous and found throughout the country in New South Wales (NSW), Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

Around 3,000 people are reported to be bitten by snakes in Australia each year, with an average of two fatalities and around 500 people being hospitalized, according to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, one of the world's largest aeromedical services providing emergency health care services in Australia.

There are around 100 venomous snake species in Australia but "only 12 are likely to inflict a wound that could kill you," the NSW government's Department of Planning, Industry and Environment explains.

Snakes belonging to the front-fanged group, which in NSW include the tiger snake, brown snake, death adder, mulga or king brown snake and a few species of sea snake, are considered most dangerous, the department notes.

"Snakes are not naturally aggressive and always prefer to retreat. They will only attack humans if hurt or provoked and most bites occur when people try to kill or capture snakes. If you come across a snake in the bush, just calmly walk the other way. If you find a snake in your home or garden and would like it removed, contact your nearest snake catcher," the department advises.

eastern brown snake Australia Sydney September 2012
A deadly eastern brown snake in the Sydney suburb of Terrey Hills pictured on September 25, 2012. Getty Images

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