The staff of The Western Journal is working a reduced schedule over Easter weekend to allow our employees the opportunity for rest and worship with their families if they so choose. We are re-publishing this article as a service to our readers, who reacted strongly to it when it first ran.
The internet seems set on convincing people that merely setting foot on Australian soil will kill you. It’s kind of easy to see why.
Remember, the Land Down Under is home to all sorts of uniquely lethal animals, such as crocodiles and great white sharks. And bird-catching spiders. And the incredibly lethal marble cone snail. And the often-deadly funnel-web spider.
You know what? Let’s stop talking about all of these nasty critters. Or, rather, let’s talk about just one of them: the western brown snake.
Considered one of Australia’s most venomous serpents, the western brown snake can often dispatch a person with a single bite. Yet a six-year-old boy from Wongan Hills, Australia, survived not one but two strikes — and those were within the space of eight days.
Like many young children, Joel Canning was playing outside on a warm day. But playtime came to an abrupt end when a western brown snake sank its fangs into him.
Joel knew that was bad news. Though the western brown snake, which is also known as a gwardar, isn’t the most aggressive creature. Its fangs deliver three times as much venom as the eastern brown snake.
That’s a lot of venom and as Joel started running toward his house, he started saying, “I’m not going to die, I’m not going to die, I’m not going to die.” Then he asked his mother a simple question.
“He came in quite calmly and asked me, ‘If you get bitten by a venomous snake in Australia, do you go to heaven?’” Pippa Canning told PerthNow. “And I said yes … and then he went down.
“He collapsed … and that is when I realized it was real.” Canning immediately understood that her son was in trouble.
Yes, Joel had collapsed. But he was also having trouble breathing.
“He was hissing … and I knew he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. … So every third step, I stopped and did rescue breaths before being able to get him in the back seat of the car.”
Joel was evacuated to Perth for emergency treatment, and he soon recovered. But a little more than a week later, he was bitten by another western brown snake — on the same street.
It seemed like it was all over for the little boy. “He was losing the ability to move, to talk properly,” Canning said.
Yet Joel was convinced he would make it. Why? He had prayed to God.
“I thought I was going to survive again because I survived the first time … and I did,” he explained. “So when I prayed for that … my prayer came true.”
The Almighty was indeed gracious to Joel. Yet the two animal attacks have left the little guy with anxiety issues and panic attacks.
His parents have urged other families to take some simple precautions: Be careful outside and know first aid.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.