An Australian fisherman shocked to find he was sharing his boat with a potentially deadly tiger snake 11km from shore says the encounter "put the heart rate up quite considerably".
Gippsland fisherman Bob Thatcher was caught off guard when he discovered last Thursday he was sharing his tinny with a passenger "that I didn't really want".
"It was only about 30cm from my foot when I noticed it and that put the heart rate up quite considerably," Thatcher told 3AW's Ross and Russel today.
He described how he did his best to stand still in the boat while he watched the highly venomous one-metre snake slither down the side of the boat behind his fishing gear.
"That gave me a little bit of respite, so I sat down and wondered then how I was going to get out of this problem," he said.
Thatcher decided his best option was to head back to the boat ramp, so carefully pulled up the anchor and began gliding across the lake, all with a keen eye on his unwanted companion.
He phoned his son, who arranged for a snake catcher to meet him at the Sale boat ramp.
"That made life a little bit easier," he said.
The lake was thankfully calm and it only took about half an hour to jet across to the ramp.
However, when the snake catcher turned up, the snake disappeared down a hole in the boat floor.
"We couldn't get at it," Thatcher said.
"Eventually it started poking its head back out of this hole. Every time we moved it went back down into the bilge again.
"We decided to get the boat out of the water and see what we could do after that."
Once the boat was on the ramp, the snake slithered onto the boat floor and was caught.
"That was a big relief to see him all caught and not having any more problems," Thatcher said.
The reptile was then released into bushes.
Tiger snakes are a highly venomous species found in the southern regions of Australia. Bites are fatal if untreated, causing pain in the feet and neck, tingling, numbness and sweating, followed by breathing difficulties and paralysis.