Reeko doesn’t want to make any kids have bad dreams but figures most people would like to know that the Australian mulga snake has been found to attack people in their sleep. Besides, most kids don’t live in Australia, where this sneaky snake lives, and for the Australian kids, well, Reeko figures Australians are so tough their parents will probably use this news as a bedtime story to help their little ones fall asleep.
The Australian mulga snake is one of the longest venomous snakes in the world and can grow up to 10 feet in length. The mulga, also known as “Pilbara cobra” or the “king brown” lives in woodlands, grasslands, and sandy deserts – just about everywhere except for the rainforest. It not only eats lizards, birds, and frogs but has an especially keen taste for eating other snakes. And while most venomous snakes only bite people when they feel threatened, the mulga likes to sneak up on people when they are asleep and attack them in their beds!
Scientists studied 27 cases of people who were bitten by the mulga snake and found that most were bitten between midnight and 5:00 AM – while they were asleep. This wouldn’t be such a big deal except snakes rarely ever bite people while they are asleep. To make matters worse, scientists found that the mulga had injected venom into the victim in almost all bedtime-bite cases (mulga snakes often do not inject venom into their victim when they bite). Victims of a mulga snakebite experience bleeding, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, and screaming fits of terror after they wake up and find a six-foot-long snake in bed with them.
If this news is heightening your ophidiophobia (the fear of snakes), take heart. The mulga is generally thought of as being a potentially dangerous species of poisonous snake but its venom is really not that toxic and death by mulga snakebite is rare. The mulga is dangerous because of the amount of venom it injects into its victim. Its venom is not particularly toxic but it is produced in huge quantities. For example, the average tiger snake produces around 10-20mg when milked. A good sized king brown snake may deliver over 150mg in one bite.
Scientists still aren’t sure why the snakes are biting sleeping people but think the snake may be attracted to the person’s body heat. Since the mulga is native to Australia, most people around the world don’t have to worry about the creepy intruder and spunky Australians already know how to deal with the uninvited bedtime companion (they arise from the bed, yawn sleepily, and grab the mulga by the tail and begin swinging it overhead helicopter style before perfectly timing the release so the dizzy snake sails out the doorway).