By Tui Benjamin
This is the heart-stopping moment a daredevil reptile rescuer was lowered into a well where FIVE of the world’s deadliest snakes were lurking.
Ross McGibbon got a thrill from saving the four Western brown snakes and one mulga snake – but admitted the stunt would have been some people’s ‘worst nightmare’.
The 32-year-old was stunned to discover the five poisonous serpents when he was winched down into the pitch black six-metre-deep former well outside Perth, Western Australia, during the 45-minute rescue.
But the full-time firefighter said while spending 20 minutes in a confined underground space with venomous reptiles isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, he came back to the surface with a smile on his face.
Ross, who lives in Perth, said: “We were out looking for snakes when we came across the well.
“From previous experience I knew snakes can fall down wells and then can’t get out again themselves, and when I shone the torch down I could see one moving about in the light.
“When I got down there I was pretty excited to discover another four snakes, so there were five in total.
“The biggest one, a mulga snake, was in the middle – given a chance that one would eat the other snakes so the four western brown snakes were spread out away from it.
“Dealing with five deadly, extremely venomous snakes at once in a dark, confined space with limited visibility was not without danger, there was definitely a risk going down there.
“Some of my mates were saying this is some people’s worst nightmare but I went down there with a big grin on my face.
“You can see in the video I was pretty excited being down there and I came back up with a big smile on my face too. I wasn’t fazed at all.
“We had quite a chuckle thinking what I had enjoyed so much would be some people’s worst nightmare.”
Western brown snakes and mulga snakes are within the top 20 most venomous snakes to exist on the planet and their bites can be deadly to humans.
Ross previously worked as a professional snake catcher in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, before moving to Perth in November last year.
He now juggles his job as a firefighter with snapping snakes whenever he can, which he documents on Facebook page Ross McGibbon Reptile Photography.
Ross was filmed rescuing the snakes on June 17 at about 12pm after stumbling across the disused well during a trip out with friends.
The 32-year-old was forced to jump off the hook he had been winched down into the well on quickly as two of the western brown snakes began to advance towards him.
But Ross said the ‘mock striking’ they exhibited – part of their defensive behaviour – was unlikely to have harmed him as their small fangs would not have been able to penetrate his boots and trousers.
The mulga snake was about one metre long with the four western brown snakes each between 70cm and 80cm in length.
Ross used a snake hook to catch each of the serpents in turn before putting them in a hoop bag to bring them back to the surface and release them back into the wild.
He does not know how long the snakes had been trapped in the well but believes they could have been there for up to a year – and without his help they would have starved to death.
Ross said: “It is anyone’s guess how long the snakes had been there.
“They could have been down the well for up to a year and still surviving because snakes are so good at metabolising and shutting themselves down to live without food.
“None of them were too emaciated or in a bad condition so we were able to release them all back into the wild.
“When it comes to rescuing snakes it was a bit of a rare coincidence to get to rescue five at once.
“But I know snake behaviour and I was confident in my handling skills so I did not think it was too much of a risk to go down there.
“As a firefighter I’m trained in vertical and confined space rescues. Some people would get claustrophobic down there but small spaces don’t bother me.
“I love snakes because they could not be more different from human beings, and that is an endless source of fascination. Since I was nine years old I have been obsessed with reptiles.”
For more of Ross’ snake photography and videos go to here.