A couple found a highly toxic live snake in a bag of supermarket lettuce – but still used the lettuce to make a sandwich.
Alexander White, 44, from Sydney, Australia, bought a double pack of Baby Cos salad with partner Amelie Neate, 35, on Monday while shopping at his local Aldi store.
As Alexander unpacked his purchases on the kitchen table, he noticed what he thought was a big worm that was moving in his pocket.
“The creature then stuck out its long tongue and I realized it was a small snake,” he explained.
“I freaked out and called my partner to have a look – of course she didn’t believe me when I shouted ‘snake in a salad’.”
The couple noticed that the bag was open and Alexander had carried it around the store in his arms.
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“Fortunately, my kids weren’t home at this point as I may have asked them to unpack the groceries and I would hate to think about what might have happened,” the father said.
The snake and the salad were placed in a large Tupperware container and the Wires wildlife rescue organization was informed.
According to Alexander’s descriptions, he was told it was likely a baby eastern brown – a highly venomous snake.
But when they sent photos, they found that it was indeed a pale-headed snake, another venomous species.
“He described it as medically significant, which means that if someone would bite him, they would have to go to the hospital very quickly,” said Alexander.
Due to the dangerous diversity of the snakes, the answering machine organized a volunteer snake catcher to pick up the snake quickly around 10:30 p.m. that same evening.
Before it was taken away, Amelie, originally from Austria, recorded a video of the queue to send to family members and made a video call with her children who are gone during the school holidays.
And Alexander sent pictures of the snake to Aldi’s customer service team.
He wrote, “There is no mention of baby snakes in the package, just Baby Cos Salad. I think there might be an issue with the product.
“I’m too nervous to make a salad now that we wanted for dinner.”
An Aldi spokesman said: “We worked with the client and the WIRES team to identify the snake’s natural habitat, which is certainly not an ALDI business.
“We thank WIRES for their support. We are working closely with our product supplier to investigate how this incident might have occurred.”
With the help of the supermarket, Wires traced the origin of the salad back to Toowoomba and tried to organize transport home for the snake.
After the dog handler took the snake away, Alexander ate the salad for lunch.
“I washed it thoroughly,” he said the guard.
“There were a few things I classified as snake droppings, but I washed them off and had a salad wrap today.
“People always say ‘wash your salad’ and I think I’ve been guilty of failing to wash my vegetables in the past, but I think the lesson from this is always to wash your salad.”
According to the Australian Museum, pale-headed snakes are a “shy but nervous species that gets aroused easily when cornering.”
No deaths have been recorded, but the museum states that “poisoning can cause some uncomfortable symptoms, including severe headache, blurred vision, localized pain, and abnormal bleeding”.