Jerusalem: A sleepy snake came to a rather
untimely end after having its head half chewed off by a
fearless toddler in an Arab town in northern Israel, the
child`s family said on Friday.
Thirteen-month-old Imad Aleeyan, who has six teeth, was
found chewing on the head of the 30-centimetre snake by his
mother, who alerted the neighbourhood with her screams.
"I was making his milk and I looked over and saw he had a
snake in his mouth," said his mother, Ghadir Aleeyan who lives
in the town of Shefa`Amr, 15 kilometres east of the port city
"I started to scream. I couldn`t believe my eyes," she
said. "I nearly died of fright."
Her screams brought the rest of the family -- and the
neighbourhood -- running.
"We rushed in and found the baby with a snake in his
mouth, chewing it. It was really scary, just horrible," the
boy`s aunt, Yasmin Shahin, said.
A neighbour who had rushed to see what was going on
yanked the half-dead reptile out of the boys mouth and killed
it, she said.
"When he pulled it out, Imad started crying," she said,
describing the snake`s head as "very badly chewed" when it
emerged from the boys mouth.
They immediately checked the child for any bite marks but
found none, with doctors at Rambam hospital in Haifa
confirming he was unharmed.
"Doctors at the hospital told us the snake was really
poisonous but that we were very lucky because they release
less venom in the winter," she said.
But Dr Boaz Shacham, an expert on amphibians and
reptiles, told AFP that from looking at images of the
smashed-up serpent online, it appeared to be a coin-marked
snake (hemorrhois nummifer), a non-venomous species which
resembles a viper.
Such snakes grow up to 1.3 metres in length, he said
suggesting it was a "very young" specimen.
"It probably didn`t bite the child because of the cold,"
said Shacham who is the head of the herpetology collection at
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
"They are not really active in winter."