Venomous Snake Found at School, Hiding Under Bales of Hay

A venomous snake has been found hiding under bales of hay at a school in Australia.

The red-bellied black snake was spotted by the school's maintenance man, who reported it to Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7, a snake removal and relocation company.

A video of the encounter posted to Facebook shows reptile wrangler Stuart McKenzie searching for the snake amongst a pile of hay bales, carefully breaking them apart with his snake hook. Children can be heard playing in the background.

Red-bellied black snakes are named after their distinctive crimson flanks, which stand out against their otherwise uniformly black and glossy bodies.

However, this snake's markings appear to be very pale when McKenzie eventually uncovers it and holds it up to the camera.

Red Belly Hiding Under Hay Bales At School!The schools maintenance man was very lucky when he was moving around some hay bales and found a Red Belly...

"This sort of explains why he was in there. You can see he's not his vibrant red," the snake catcher says. "He's about to shed his skin, so that explains why he was in that nice moist area."

Snakes become inactive as they prepare to shed their skin, and often hide in order to protect themselves while they are in a vulnerable state.

They also consume more water than usual while shedding to stay hydrated, and soaking themselves can also help speed the process up.

"Nice size red belly, doesn't belong in a school though," McKenzie says in the video, before relocating the snake to a creek.

Red-bellied black snakes typically grow to between 1 and 2 meters in length, though it isn't clear how large this particular animal was.

They are often found in moist habitats, such as streams and swamps, and usually feed on a variety of small animals, including frogs, rodents, fish, tadpoles and lizards.

They have also been known to eat other snakes, including their own species. A video posted by Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7 in November showed a red-bellied black snake killing and eating a smaller common tree snake.

The venom of a red-bellied black snake can cause painful injuries, including swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, prolonged bleeding and localized necrosis.

They tend to avoid humans, but they have been known to attack when provoked.

Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7 says that this has given them a "fearsome reputation" that is "simply well over-exaggerated."

The Australian Museum says that the snake is responsible for "very few human deaths," and that many bite victims "experience only mild or negligible symptoms."

However, "suspected bites should be treated as serious and medical attention sought as soon as possible."

A red-bellied black snake flicking its tongue
A stock image shows a red-bellied black snake, unrelated to the animal found at the school. Snakes become inactive and hide as they prepare to shed their skin. Lakeview_Images/iStock