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CRIKEY! I'VE JUST ADDER SNAKE BITE; Steve Irwin fan aged 9 survives venom ordeal.

Byline: By Donna Watson

A NINE-YEAR-OLD boy's obsession with wildlife expert Steve Irwin saved him after he was bitten by a snake.

John Parsons felt a sharp pain in his leg as he played with a friend in his garden in Kilmichael Glen, five miles north of Lochgilphead, Argyll.

John - fascinated by reptiles after watching his hero Steve on TV - immediately realised he'd been bitten by an adder, Britain's only poisonous snake.

He even identified the potentially deadly snake's sex from its size and distinctive brown zig-zag markings as it began to slither away.

John spent four days in Mid Argyll Hospital, Lochgilphead, after being bitten by the female adder.

His expertise helped doctors treat him as quickly as possible.

John said: "I was playing with my friend Rachel when I bent down and felt something sharp. 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 Rachel to go and get her mum and she called an ambulance."

John says he still wants to work with animals when he's older, just like Irwin.

He added: "It wasn't the snake's fault - I disturbed it. It was just defending itself."

John's dad Andy, 46, said: "John loves wildlife programmes and, as a fan of Steve Irwin, he developed a fascination with all kinds of reptiles.

"He recognised the snake and knew it was venomous and there had been fatalities in the past.

"I am very proud of the way he and his friend Rachel dealt with the situation. They remained calm and John knew exactly what to do."

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

He was put on a drip, given pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs. He has now returned home, although he uses a frame to help him walk.

Andy added: "The hospital staff were fantastic. They said it was their first adder bite case in 10 years."

Scottish SPCA spokeswoman Doreen Graham said: "An adder bite could have been very serious.

"Deaths from adder bites are very rare, but can occur. John's knowledge of reptiles could potentially have saved his life.

"He showed a maturity which puts some adults in the shade."

CAPTION(S):

SO LUCKY: Brave John's only injury was a badly swollen leg; REPTILE EXPERT: Irwin, left, and adder, above
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 19, 2007
Words:411
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