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A forklift driver was recently given a shock when he spotted a snake - and an incredibly dangerous one at that - nestled among a container of bricks.
Michael Regan discovered the serpent at his workplace Manchester Brick Specialist, in Salford, Greater Manchester, last Friday (17 December).
Unaware just how deadly it was, he bravely trapped it in a cardboard box before contacting the RSPCA.
Inspector Ryan King subsequently confirmed it was a saw-scaled viper, a species that is 'more than capable of killing people with its highly toxic venom'.
The snake in question had made a 4,000 mile trip to Salford in a shipment from Pakistan and had remarkably managed to survive in the inhospitable and unfamiliar environment of an industrial estate in northern England for seven weeks.
But you know what snakes are like - slippery, sneaky, cunning.
Recalling his encounter with the stowaway serpent, 40-year-old forky Michael said: "I knew to keep a safe distance but, obviously, had no idea how deadly this snake was - it was pretty shocking
"Looking back now it really was a good job it was spotted and dealt with or who knows what could have happened.
"The container was shipped at the beginning of November so it seems amazing that the snake has survived for seven weeks away from its natural environment, but I am glad it is now safe in a new home."
The snake - which is mainly found in Asia - has been moved to an establishment in Liverpool with a special licence to care for venomous reptiles.
Saw-scaled vipers are actually quite small, but they can strike rapidly and are highly venomous.
Inspector King was naturally dubious when he was told one had been found in Salford, but he knew as soon as he saw it that it was a highly dangerous creature.
He said: "The report came to us that a saw-scaled viper had been spotted but I was a bit sceptical.
"Sometimes we get to jobs like this, and it turns out to be a harmless grass snake - we have even attended snake reports which turn out to be plastic toys.
"However, I only had to take a quick look to realise we were dealing with a reptile which was more than capable of killing people with its highly toxic venom."
He subsequently donned full protective clothing and was able to place the animal in a snake bag, before removing it from the industrial estate that had been its home for seven weeks.
He said: "I just think it was so lucky that they had spotted the snake - they are very small, and it could have easily bitten someone, and it seems he has been in the brickyard for about a month.
"Anti-venom is available in the countries where the viper originates from, but the snake is so venomous - even then it does not always save the victim.
"It was quite an honour to deal with this snake, and I am pleased he has a home where he will be looked after."
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