A forklift driver has revealed his "shock" at coming face to face with one of the world's deadliest snakes, whose bite can kill within a matter of hours.
Michael Regan, 40, spotted the dangerous reptile on December 17 lying in a container of bricks at his workplace in Salford, Greater Manchester.
The poisonous beast had been shipped over from Pakistan last month and had remained in the sealed container ever since.
The snake, a saw-scaled viper, is mainly found in Asia and is one of four species that account for the highest number of human fatalities in India each year.
After seeing the snake at Manchester Brick Specialist, Michael bravely trapped it with a cardboard box and reported the potentially deadly matter to the RSPCA, unaware of just how dangerous the snake was.
He was later stunned to find out that the snake, which had made a 4,000-mile journey, was so deadly.
Michael said: "I knew to keep a safe distance but, obviously, had no idea how deadly this snake was – it was pretty shocking!
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"Looking back now it really was a good job it was spotted and dealt with or who knows what could have happened.
"The container was shipped at the beginning of November so it seems amazing that the snake has survived for seven weeks away from its natural environment, but I am glad it is now safe in a new home."
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When the staff at the brick firm researched the type of snake, they came across an image of the saw-scaled viper but were still unaware of just how dangerous it was.
RSPCA Inspector Ryan King, who was called to deal with the snake, said: "The report came to us that a saw-scaled viper had been spotted but I was a bit sceptical.
"Sometimes we get to jobs like this, and it turns out to be a harmless grass snake – we have even attended snake reports which turn out to be plastic toys.
"However, I only had to take a quick look to realise we were dealing with a reptile which was more than capable of killing people with its highly toxic venom."
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Staff at the firm had contained the snake, so Ryan donned full protective clothing was able to safely place the reptile in a snake bag.
He then made sure that it was very secure before transporting it to a new home with an establishment that has a special license to care for venomous reptiles.
Ryan said: "I just think it was so lucky that they had spotted the snake – they are very small, and it could have easily bitten someone, and it seems he has been in the brickyard for about a month.
"Anti-venom is available in the countries where the viper originates from, but the snake is so venomous – even then it does not always save the victim.
"It was quite an honour to deal with this snake, and I am pleased he has a home where he will be looked after.”
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