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Last Updated: Friday, 18 May 2007, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Quick thinking of snakebite boy
John Parsons and dad Andy
John has to walk with the help of a frame after being bitten
A nine-year-old boy's knowledge of reptiles proved vital when he was bitten by a snake.

John Parsons was bitten in the leg by a female adder as he played with a friend in his garden.

John, from Kilmichael Glen, near Lochgilphead, Argyll, was able to tell doctors the snake's sex because of its size and distinctive markings.

The Scottish SPCA said the attack could have been "very serious" if John had not known exactly what to do.

John developed his interest in snakes after watching the late Australian naturalist Steve Irwin on television.

It wasn't the snake's fault. It was out in the sun and I got too close to it and disturbed it. It was just defending itself
John Parsons

The youngster spent almost four days in Lochgilphead's Mid Argyll Hospital after feeling the snake's fangs go into his leg, just below the kneecap.

The adder had been coiled up in long grass as it basked in the afternoon sunshine.

John said: "It was like I had knelt on a thorn or a thistle, but when I looked down I saw a snake.

"Because I've got lots of books on reptiles and snakes, I knew it was a female adder. I told my friend Rachel to go and get her mum and she called an ambulance.

"It wasn't the snake's fault. It was out in the sun and I got too close to it and disturbed it. It was just defending itself."

'Very proud'

John said he still wants to work with animals when he is older, just like his hero Irwin, and insisted the experience would not put him off snakes.

Father Andy, a woodworker, said: "He recognised it immediately as a female adder, and knew it was venomous and that there had been some fatalities in the past.

"I am very proud of the way he and his friend Rachel dealt with the situation. They didn't panic and remained calm and John knew exactly what to do."

Adder attacks are very rare in Britain

John suffered heavy bruising and severe swelling from the top of his left leg to his toes.

He was put on a drip for fluids, given painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs and kept in hospital for observation for three nights. He is still using a frame to help him walk.

Scottish SPCA spokeswoman Doreen Graham said: "An adder bite to a such a small boy could have been very serious.

"Deaths from adder bites are very rare, but can occur if the victim suffers a severe allergic reaction. John's knowledge of reptiles could potentially have saved his life."

TV naturalist Irwin, 44, died after being struck in the chest by a stingray's barb while filming a documentary on Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.

Adder bites girl twice in garden
03 May 07 |  Cornwall
Snake bites sleeping woman in bed
17 Nov 06 |  Lancashire
Adders face threat from walkers
07 Aug 06 |  Lincolnshire
Snake census seeks adder numbers
05 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Snakes revel in hot summer
14 Aug 03 |  Science/Nature


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