Canberra, Australia – Alex White thought he was watching a large worm in a plastic wrapped lettuce he brought home from a Sydney supermarket – until a snake’s tongue flew away.
“When this little tongue came out of its mouth and started to look around and I realized it was a snake, I was completely blown away when I saw that the worms had no tongues,” White said Thursday.
“I was kind of panicked, of course,” he said.
Authorities say he traveled 870 kilometers (540 miles) to Sydney with a pair of plastic-covered gas cans from a Doomba baking plant.
The refrigerated supermarket supply chain turned the boy with cold blood into a fool until he bought white greens at an in-town ALDI supermarket on Monday evening and rode his bicycle home with his bag of salad and snakes.
White and his partner Amelia Neat saw the snake move as the greens were unwrapped on the kitchen table.
They noticed that the plastic wrap was torn and that the snake might have escaped, so they quickly stuffed the reptile into a plastic food storage container with greens.
White called the WIRES rescue system, and that night a snake handler picked up the snake.
White said the WIRES explained to him before the handler arrived: “If you get bitten, you need to go to the hospital quickly.”
Aldi is investigating how a snake entered a supermarket.
“We’ve worked with the client and team at WIRES to identify the snake’s natural habitat. This is definitely not an Alti store!” The German-based supermarket chain said in a statement.
“We are working closely with our product supplier to investigate how this incident could have happened,” ALDI said.
Wire reptile coordinator Gary Pattinson said that when the snake is less than 20 centimeters (8 inches), it is “as venomous as ever.”
Pattinson has been following the WIRES policy of returning the recovered wildlife from anywhere until he returns to Queensland next week to take care of the snake.
“This is the first snake I put in a sealed, packed item,” Pattinson said. “We always get frogs in them.”
Neat, a German immigrant, said his brush with a venomous snake in the Sydney kitchen was a setback in efforts to reassure relatives in Europe that Australia has nothing to worry about with its deadly outback wildlife.
“For the past 10 years or so I have been telling my family at home that Australia is the safest country,” Neat said.
“I said I was always in the city, and it feels good here,” he added.
Rod McCurk, The Associated Press