How A Group Of Innocent Beach Cows Suddenly Turned Into ‘Meat-Eating’ Animals

There are certain things you can expect to see when you journey to the beach to get your daily dose of vitamin D and take a dip in the ocean: other people, a lot of towels and umbrellas, maybe a sandcastle or two. Normal stuff, right?

Now, if the beach you’re traveling to happens to be in Goa, India, not only will you see all the normal beach activities happening under the sun, but you’ll also join forces with tons of free-roaming cows! That’s right, visitors hang out on the sand with hoofed buddies, and it’s something you have to see to believe. And these are no ordinary bovines…

Beaches glitter all the way up the coast of Goa, an Indian state along the Arabian Sea. Not lost among all the palm trees and bungalows are some of the unusual guests that lay out in the sunshine.

John Harper / Getty Images

Just take a look at the kinds of fellow beach-goers you get to share fun under the sun with. Yep, lots of mellow cows — and they’ve developed some strange habits as a result of their permanent vacation.

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This cool cow doesn’t have a care in the world as he chills out with visitors from all over the world. As you can imagine, it’s startling at first to see these massive animals roaming freely, but they’re totally peaceful.

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Tourists come from far and wide to snap an up-close-and-personal photo of their new horned pal. But, these photo ops are actually available outside of the beach, too.

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The cows have free run of Goa. On any given day, you can take a stroll down the street and see a burly bovine, minding their own business, trot right past you.

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The people of Goa — and actually much of the rest of India, as well — live alongside droves of cows every day. And, their views of them are different than most of the world.

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You won’t see any of them end up on the menu at Guy Fieri’s new restaurant or the new Michelin-rated steakhouse across town. No, the cows roam the area for a completely different reason.

Travel Cannel

The people of India, most of whom practice Hinduism, see the cows as sacred. Not only will they never eat beef, but they pray to cows in temples. And, during special ceremonies, the animals are dressed to the nines.

This dazzling garb turns heads everywhere it goes. Tons of bright colors and religious relics adorn the cattle during celebrations throughout the year. Some might draw some comparisons between these cattle and Japanese Black cattle.

While the Japanese Black cattle aren’t worshiped or considered sacred, they’re raised in overly comfortable environments and given elegant treatment in order to produce the world’s richest and tender cuts of meat.

The Independent

Wagyu and Kobe beef are considered the finest cuts of steak you can buy. They’re sought after for the intense marbling and velvety richness. Of course, most livestock around the world has the opposite experience.

This rings especially true in India, where certain areas look more like landfills than cities. The unlucky cows that don’t roam the shores of Goa are often found rummaging through piles of spoiled food.

A trash heap is likely the scene you’ll see if you visit many of the poorer areas of the country. The cows still pretty much just keep to themselves, but that doesn’t mean overcrowding isn’t a big issue.

While India grapples with ideas to care for its growing populations, cows clutter the same neighborhoods, further congesting cities. And, a really weird development unfolded in one herd.

As we know, a cow’s diet consist almost entirely of grass. They’re herbivores, meaning they live off only vegetables. However, one group of cattle in Goa actually began picking through restaurant garbage bins and completely altered their daily eating regimen.

Day after day of consuming food like chicken scraps and fried fish — a diet totally opposite of what they were used to — they actually became carnivores, scouring the local land for anything other than typical veggies.

pawopa3336 / Getty Images

This, obviously, was something no one intended to happen, and it became a pretty big problem. The last thing locals wanted was cattle rummaging through their trash in search of meat. So, a team of veterinarians were brought in.

The specialists came prepped with medication that, after four or five days of administering it to the meat-eating cows, would cause their diets to switch back over to the plant-based regimen.

You might think the last thing you’d want approaching you on a beach would be a sacred carnivorous cow, but visitors were never in any danger. Many avid travelers were used to te environment, anyway.

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On Assateague Island, an undeveloped piece of land just off the coasts of Maryland and Virginia, lives a herd of strange wild creatures. Built like horses and sized like ponies, their breed has been there since colonial days.


How did these animals get onto the island? Due to Assateague’s nature as a barrier island, its sandy shores change shape often with the sea and the wind, and it isn’t connected to any other land.

Susanne Bledsoe

As a matter of fact, the government once tried to build a road from one end of the island to the other, but it was promptly destroyed by a hurricane. So, yeah, it’s not an environment where settlements can be built.

abookl / TripAdvisor

According to legend, a Spanish galleon wrecked near Assateague centuries ago, and its cargo of domesticated horses swam to the nearest island they could find. Other historians think the herd’s ancestors escaped from a colonist’s farm.

National Park Service

Either way, once the horses had arrived on the island, they couldn’t be retrieved. Instead, they found some tasty grass growing there and began to adapt to their new beachy home. It wasn’t easy for them.

Star Tribune

There were many things to get used to. The horses no longer had contact with humans, and they had to fend for themselves, searching for food when one part of the island ran out.

They adapted physically, too. While the original horses who arrived on Assateague were true horses, the island’s harsh weather conditions killed off all but the shorter, sturdier foals. Over the years, the herd’s offspring became shorter, with shaggier coats for outdoor winters.

National Park Service

The herd also began to appear rounder, as if they were all pregnant or overweight. It was actually due to the accumulation of sea salt on all the grass on the island, which caused bloating when eaten.


For many years, the horses of Assateague were known only locally, but in 1947 they got their big break. Author Marguerite Henry published the classic children’s book Misty of Chincoteague, about a horse who is descended from an Assateague inhabitant.

At Home With Books

The book went viral, as they say, and was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal. Readers began flocking to Assateague, hoping to catch a glimpse of the horses for themselves — and glimpse they did.

Sam Newman

In the 1950s, the U.S. government declared Assateague a protected national seashore. In order to enhance tourism on the island as a nature reserve, paved campsites were set up, and bridges were built on either end of Assateague to provide car access.

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As a bigger influx of tourists reached Assateague, you might think the horses would be scared away — but no! They kept minding their own business and eating their grass. This made for some interesting stories.

Michael Pruiksma / YouTube

Occasionally, visitors who’ve gotten too close — either while trying to feed or pet the horses — have been bitten. Although the horses are used to human presence, they can perceive even a gentle pat as a threat.

Washington Post

Although any time of year is a good time to see equine creatures on Assateague, the most exciting show happens on the last Wednesday every July, when fifty thousand tourists flock to the shores of Chincoteague to watch an unforgettable sight.


In order to keep the horse population healthy and under control, salt water cowboys go to Assateague on this day and round up every last horse — and swim them across the channel to Chincoteague, where some of the foals are auctioned.


As the crowds watch excitedly, and quietly, the cowboys herd the horses into the water at low tide, and then shepherd them through, giving special assistance to any animals that may be struggling or weak.

Once they reach Chincoteague, on the other side of the channel, the horses are corralled, and they all run down Main Street to the Chincoteague Carnival Grounds, where an auction will be held the next day.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

After the auction, the horses are corralled once more and gather on Chincoteague’s shores to swim back to Assateague, where they’ll munch on grass and trot happily until the next year’s swim comes around.

Wikimedia Commons

The event is so widely renowned that it was filmed on location in 1960 for the movie Misty. Many local residents got to be in the movie, and Chincoteague children were even permitted to miss school to see Hollywood in their town.

However, despite all the trimmings and trappings, the locals say the best way to get up close and personal with the horses is still to drive to Assateague, get out of your car, and wait for the magic to find you. The same rule applies on most “animal islands.”

Chicago Tribune

Clearly, dog people learn to adapt on Tashirojima, AKA Cat Island. They pretty much have to, or they’d be miserable on the island where cats officially outnumber humans. How Tashirojima earned the name Cat Island goes way back to the mid-18th century.

Japan’s late Edo Period was characterized by economic growth, enjoyment of arts and entertainment, and a stable population, all of which made its way to the island of Tashirojima…just not in the way people expected.

Kazutaka Sawa/Creative Commons

The people of Tashirojima were incredibly hard-working, and so were their cats. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, people on the island raised silkworms for their textiles. The problem? The island’s mouse population preyed on the precious silkworms.

Kazutaka Sawa/Creative Commons

Luckily for the workers, there was a clear solution. For every mouse is a hungry cat right on its tail, and before long, the island’s cat population grew to accommodate that of the mice. But there was a hitch in the workers’ plan.

When you have stray cats on an island, there’s really only a handful of things they can do: hunt, sleep, and mate. Before Tashirojima knew it, the island was overrun with cats. It helped that the island was sustained by the fishing industry.

In that way, Tashirojima became something of a cats’ paradise: It was lousy with fish and mice, it was covered with interesting peaks and trails for the cats to explore, and as the generations passed, the island mainly became home to cat enthusiasts.

And “cat enthusiast” may not be a strong enough word. Every store, hotel, and home on Cat Island has a litany of cat toys, and tourism guides recommend that visitors bring their own cat food, since it’s always sold out on the island.


Even the most grizzled residents have soft spots for the cats: There’s a mythology among fishermen that the cats bring good luck. When a fisherman once accidentally killed a cat, he felt so guilty that he built something unusual in the middle of the island…

He built a shrine for the animal, which has become a tourist attraction and a favorite haunt among the island’s many felines, mainly because people leave cat toys around the shrine. Weirdly enough, that’s not the only cat shrine in the area.

Kakei.R/Creative Commons

There are at least nine more scattered across the Miyagi Prefecture. As more tourists head to Tashirojima to see Cat Island for themselves, a couple of cat-themed attractions have popped up.


You can even find little inns designed to resemble the island’s favorite four legged animals. If you want to bring your dog to the island, you’re out of luck: It’s strictly forbidden in order to protect the cats from harm.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the human population of Tashirojima has grown fond of the cats, and though it’s considered “inappropriate” to keep the cats as pets, some of the felines have endeared themselves to the humans more than others. 


One such cat, named Droopy-Eared Jack, even hit the big time. A movie was made about him that was turned into a series, and tourists head over to the island specifically to find Jack. “Droopy-Eared Jack” may not sound like a particularly powerful cat…


But don’t let the endearing name fool you. Whether big or small, every cat on Cat Island is treated with respect. After all, good fortune comes to fishermen who feed the strays…but in 2011, they learned that this isn’t always the case.

On March 11th of that year, the cats suddenly started wailing. That alone wan’t unusual, but what was unusual was just how many cats were howling out of nowhere. It seemed that wherever you went, there was a cat, wailing at whoever would listen.


But that was the problem — no one listened. It was weird that a majority of the cats were making a ruckus when usually they didn’t, but no one quite knew what to make of it. Weirdest of all was the way the cats looked.


Every cat owner knows what it looks like when a cat feels threatened: Their tails puff up, their ears flatten out, their eyes become the size of dinner plates. Unfortunately, by the time anyone realized what this all meant, it was too late.

Fiona Loh

Hours after the howling began, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Tōhoku, sending a merciless tsunami in its wake…which headed right towards Tashirojima. The island and its four legged friends scrambled for cover, hoping the cats’ good luck would save them.

Kazutaka Sawa/Creative Commons

In a way, it did: Most of Tashirojima was still standing after the tsunami passed. Though buildings on the shore were damaged, a majority of houses were intact. One of the first things people did was roam the streets in search of any feline survivors.

It was impossible to protect all of the cats, so the people of Tashirojima were afraid of what they would find. Luckily, they had no reason to fear: Slowly but surely, most of the cats reappeared in town, wet and grouchy, but alive.

As Cat Island grows into a playground for cats and tourists alike, no one can forget the time the furry felines almost sacrificed their nine lives to warn Tashirojima of impending doom. Weirdly enough, it’s only one of Japan’s many animal-conquered islands…


At first glance, Ōkunoshima looks just like any of the other islands that make up Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. Accessible only by ferry, this unassuming strip of rock and tree has become one of the country’s most popular attractions — and not because of its natural beauty.

THE GATE | Japan Travel Magazine

Instead, tourists flock from all over the world for a chance to experience the island’s huge feral rabbit population. In fact, Ōkunoshima is now most often referred to by its nickname Usagi Shima, literally “Rabbit Island.”

Japan Web Magazine

More than 1,000 of these furry little creatures call Ōkunoshima home, and with no natural predators, their numbers only continue to grow each year. Many locals have come to associate the island with fertility, though tourists seem to hold a far different perspective. / Flickr

Ōkunoshima has become the premier destination for those looking to get up close and personal with these cuddly creatures. Years of contact have rendered the rabbits docile and unafraid of humans, with many even coming right up to visitors for a quick sniff.

@petenikolic / Instagram

Unsurprisingly, this unique behavior has produced plenty of viral content that’s only served to attract more tourists to its shores. But while an island filled with cute, friendly rabbits may seem innocent as can be, the history of Ōkunoshima is anything but.

Before it was a world-famous tourist destination, Ōkunoshima served as a cultivation site for mainland Japan for centuries. It wasn’t until 1904, during the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, that the island began to take the shape of something more than just farmland.

General Photographic Agency / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Ten forts were constructed to protect the island, though following the war’s swift end in 1905, the structures fell out of use. Still, Ōkunoshima had proven capable of supporting military installments — and keeping secrets as well.

Takuma Kimura

With the island’s population at less than 20, the Japanese government knew they could do as they pleased on the island without fear of prying eyes. That’s why in 1925, the Imperial Japanese Army arrived on Ōkunoshima with sinister intentions.

Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After receiving intel that the powers of Europe and the United States were doing the same, the army initiated a secret program to begin developing chemical weapons for Japan — not exactly rabbit-friendly behavior.

The construction of the weapons factory on the island was highly classified, and most of those that were employed here were never told what they were making. The Japanese government even went as far as completely erasing Ōkunoshima from their maps.

Setouchi Reflection Trip

For more than a decade, the facility at Ōkunoshima produced over six kilotons of mustard gas and tear gas for use by the Imperial Japanese Army. These chemicals were primarily used during the Second Sino-Japanese War between 1937 and 1945, resulting in more than 80,000 deaths.

Bettmann / Getty Images

Following Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II, all documents pertaining to the project were destroyed, and American troops ultimately disposed of the remaining chemicals through dumping, burning, and burying. Yet what does any of this have to do with an island full of rabbits?

Murikov / Reddit

Well, during the height of chemical production, rabbits were shipped to Ōkunoshima for use as test subjects. After the factory shut down, the workers wound up releasing the animals into the wild — or, at least, that’s what many first believed.

As it turns out, the remaining rabbits were actually killed by American troops when they arrived on Ōkunoshima. So, how did this enormous colony of fluffballs really get here?

Kim Bui / Flickr

Believe it or not, the island’s rabbits are actually descendants of a group of eight that were released on the island back in the ’70s during early efforts to transform Ōkunoshima into a park. Since then, these rabbits have only continued to multiply and thrive — though they may not for much longer.

The increasing popularity of Ōkunoshima has resulted in a population boom as tourists continue feeding the rabbits uninhibited. This wouldn’t be a problem if visits to the island were constant, though, unfortunately, tourism doesn’t work that way.

During the offseason, human-supplied feed becomes a rarity, leaving the 1,000-strong population to turn to the island itself for food. As the number of rabbits continues growing unchecked, it’s only a matter of time before Ōkunoshima’s vegetation is completely wiped out.

And even when tourists are around, they’re not exactly feeding these rabbits the healthiest diets. Many visitors will sneak nutrition-less and even harmful foods to these animals, resulting in the average rabbit lifespan falling to just two years.

“Of the 728 rabbits that we counted on the island, 28 percent had visible injuries or illnesses,” reported Animals and Society Institute program director Margo DeMello, who saw this percentage jump to 50 in the areas of the island closest to humans.

Yukihiro Fukuda / Minden Pictures

Conservationists are now working to limit the impact of tourists on the Ōkunoshima, a mission they’ve already had experience carrying out on another uninhabited island off the coast of Brazil. Unfortunately, the lush treetops here are concealing something far deadlier than a few hundred bunnies.

From a distance, however, Ilha da Queimada Grande looks like the perfect place to get away. Its rainforest-dense shores give way to smooth, sandy beaches below, and the average temperature in the summer rarely tops 80 degrees.

Herpeto Fauna

Unfortunately, the island isn’t a vacation spot — in fact, no one is allowed to visit it at all. That’s because this seemingly idyllic paradise is actually home to one of the most dangerous predators on Earth.

Prefeitura de Itanhaém / Flickr

Meet the Bothrops insularis, better known as the golden lancehead pit viper. And while there are no documented cases of one ever biting a human, there are plenty of legends surrounding the deadliness of this snake’s bite.

One story tells of a fisherman who foolishly ventured to Ilha da Queimada Grande in search of bananas. When he never returned to the Brazilian mainland, his fellow fishermen set out to look for him, only to discover his snake-bitten body lying facedown in his boat.

João Marcos Rosa

Another legend describes the tragic death of the island’s lighthouse keeper. While he and his family were asleep one night, a swarm of golden lanceheads slithered their way into the tower and killed each of them with a single bite.

There may actually be some truth behind these stories, as the lancehead species as a whole is responsible for more deaths than any other snake in North or South America. With a venom five times more potent than that of its cousins, however, the golden lancehead could wreak havoc if released into a highly populated area.

João Marcos Rosa

Lucky for us, Ilha da Queimada Grande is the only place you’ll find these serpents. And like the legend of their fatal bite, the story of how they came to call the island home is just as frightening.

João Marcos Rosa

Some believe that, during the days of pirates, resourceful swashbucklers buried treasure on the island and brought golden lanceheads with them to guard it. Over time, these snakes began breeding and eventually took over the island.

More realistically, Ilha da Queimada Grande was likely once part of mainland Brazil, though rising tides eventually separated it from the rest of the landmass. As thousands of years passed, the lanceheads that were trapped on the island eventually evolved into the golden serpents that live there today.

Their powerful venom is also likely a result of evolution, as their primary food source consists of the birds that nest high in the island’s treetops. The venom must be fast-acting and highly potent in order to prevent their prey from flying off.

Herpeto Fauna

Even their bodies have adapted to island, as the tails of golden lanceheads are much longer than those of their closest relatives. This adaptation serves to help them slither through trees in search of a meal.

Herpeto Fauna

Thanks to this abundant food source and lack of natural predators, the golden lancehead population has continued to grow exponentially. Estimates have placed the number of snakes here at well over 400,000, which explains the island’s more common nickname — Snake Island.

In reality, the true population size has been grossly misrepresented, as recent estimates have placed the number of snakes here at between 2,000 to 3,000. Still, this comes out to one snake for roughly every 10 square meters of the island!

João Marcos Rosa

It’s no wonder, then, that the Brazilian Navy has forbidden visitors from stepping foot on its shores. Only research teams with the proper clearance are allowed to travel to the island, and that’s only if they bring a doctor along with them.

João Marcos Rosa

Still, that hasn’t stopped those in the illegal wildlife trade from trying. A single golden lancehead can fetch up to $30,000 on the black market, and a single vial of their venom can go for much more.

João Marcos Rosa

This is because golden lancehead venom is now being harvested for its potential medical benefits. The venom’s affects on blood circulation and clotting make it ideal for use in heart disease drugs, thus creating demand for the snakes themselves.

João Marcos Rosa

Because of this poaching, the Bothrops insularis is now classified as critically endangered on the IUCN’s Red List. Inbreeding has also contributed to the population’s endangered status, as limited genetic variation has made them susceptible to disease.

João Marcos Rosa

Humans have also contributed to the snakes’ dwindling numbers, as early banana farmers actually tried burning down parts of the island in order to chase them away. In fact, the island is actually partially named after this practice, as “Queimada” is Portuguese for “burnt.”

Show In My Eyes / Flickr

Fortunately, conservation efforts are being made in order to prevent these snakes from going extinct. As more restrictions are put in place to discourage poachers from visiting the island, we’ll hopefully be able to continue to enjoy the golden lancehead for years to come — from afar, of course.

João Marcos Rosa

Another snake you don’t want to mess with is the Burmese Python. The biggest of these beasts can reach a length of 23 feet and weigh over 160 pounds. They will eat anything from mice to adult deer. And they own the Everglades.


As their name suggests, the reptiles are native to Asia’s tropics, but they were now running wild all over the Everglades. Scientists theorize that following the destruction of Hurricane Andrew, pythons escaped from a zoo and bred like wildfire.

Frank Mazzotti didn’t know quite where the snakes came from, but he was determined to stop them from spreading into densely populated areas, like Miami. The biologist swore to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them. But would that be enough?


Everglades locals tried all kinds of tricks to root out the serpents. They put snake-sniffing dogs out in the marshes and even set loose radio-equipped “Judas snakes” to hopefully reveal their home base. The pythons only continued to grow.

FL Keys News

Word got around that the reptiles took over an abandoned Nike missile site. While that in and of itself didn’t threaten anyone, Floridians feared that if left unchecked, the pythons would breed at an incredible rate.

The Bohemian Blog

Who knew — it could’ve only been a matter of time until the snakes expanded beyond the missile base and started showing up in places that were more…personal. The stakes were dire, but Frank learned of one group that could help.

Rex Features

Deep in the forests of southern India, the Irula people have mastered snake catching. They see it as an art and take the practice incredibly seriously, even after India has slapped strict regulations on snake trading.

Deccan Chronicle

In recent years, the Irulas have captured poisonous reptiles for the purpose of producing antivenoms. Clearly, there was nobody on Earth more qualified. But how could Floridians convince this tribe to help a community on the other side of the world?

Frank and his herpetologist pals managed to make contact with the Irulas, and to their surprise, the snake-catchers showed interest in helping them. Granted, the Floridians would have to shell out thousands of dollars and agree to some unusual methods.

Miami Herald

Hard as it was to believe, the Irulas didn’t use any state-of-the-art tools for finding and capturing snakes. Instead, their weapon of choice was something found in any garage: a tire iron.

Video Blocks

Contrary to what you might think, they didn’t intend these tire irons for a Simpsons-style Whacking Day. The Irula used them to clear a path through the brush and pick up snakes, but ultimately they tried to capture the reptiles alive when possible.

Simpsons World

So, Frank welcomed the best Irula hunters, Masi Sadaiyan and Vadivel Gopal, to the Everglades. While both men were in their 50s, they were at the top of their game. But the Floridians got nervous when the Irulas said they’d never before hunted snakes so large.

However, Masi and Vadivel smiled when they shared this fact. They were eager for the challenge, the chance to put their skills to the ultimate test. Granted, their brand of animal control was not without its risks.

From the start, the Irula’s tactics puzzled Frank and his friends. They insisted on marching blindly through the thickest part of the swamp. When a snake’s trail ended, Masi and Vadivel made everyone sit down, pray, and smoke a cigarette.

Frank’s hopes began to wane until one of the Irula’s pointed to a shimmer in the mud. Brandishing their trusty tire irons, Masi and Vadivel scooped up a fully-grown python! That was only the beginning.

Mother Nature Network

With a few more captures under their belts, the Irulas fearlessly plunged into an old missile shaft where herpetologists spotted a nest. The sharp-eyed hunters grasped a muscled python tail and spent hours wrestling it out of tree roots.

Miami Herald

In that one afternoon, the hunters pulled out four monstrous pythons from the overgrown missile shaft. They soon brought their total up to 14 over their first two weeks. While the Irulas couldn’t stay in the Everglades forever, they did the next best thing.

Masi and Vadivel shared their wisdom with the local wildlife management team, which never could’ve located these pythons with conventional techniques. The Irula knowledge could stem the invasion, so the Floridians wanted to give them something in return.

Besides paying the Irulas over $4,000 per python, the Floridians wanted to give them the real American experience. In between expeditions, they watched NFL games and ate hot dogs at Arbetter’s, their favorite greasy spoon.

Roadfood Forums

After a month, the Irulas returned to India feeling invigorated by the hunt of their lives. The Floridians knew they were quite fortunate to find experts to turn back the snake invasion, but of course, it wasn’t always possible to have heroes on hand.

Sometimes, everyday people have to use their wits to survive a deadly animal encounter. In the spring of 2017, a mother of four named Bianca Dickinson drove her youngest child, Molly, to the end of the long driveway cutting through her ranch in Victoria, Australia. There, she’d meet a snake.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

But first, to pass the time while waiting for the school bus to drop off her older kids, Bianca had two-year-old Molly pose for a few photographs. For 15 minutes, the duo played and snapped silly pictures — until the fun came to an abrupt halt.

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

With the school bus in view down the road, Molly posed for one last photo beside a wire fence. She wore a huge grin and pointed behind herself, towards the grass blowing in the wind. It was the perfect photo… or was it?

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

“I was looking through my camera lens and was looking at my daughter,” Bianca told ABC Australia. “I saw something move in the corner of my eye and actually thought it was bark coming off the tree.” But it wasn’t bark.

Doug Hyland / Purdue

What Bianca first assumed to be tree bark was actually an eastern brown snake, aka the second-most venomous snake in the entire world. And it was slithering right behind her little girl!

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

Venom from the eastern brown snake can paralyze victims and make their blood so thin that it seeps through their pores. Without immediate treatment, a single bite from this critter can send you to an early grave — and it has enough venom to kill 20 adults.

Sky News

So it was no surprise Bianca’s insides twisted into a cold heap when she saw one of these snakes just inches away from her baby girl. “I think [the snake] was touching her boots,” Bianca said. “It was that close.” But what could she do?

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

“All my instincts wanted to run and pick her up and scream and run away,” Bianca said. However, that move, she knew, could’ve had deadly repercussions. If she did that, there was a chance the snake would feel threatened — and strike.

The Sydney Morning Herald / YouTube

Complicating the situation, Bianca had to convey to her daughter that there was a big, deadly snake behind her and not to make any sudden movements or take any violent steps backward…

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

So what did the mother do? She just froze. In doing so, she communicated non-verbally to Molly that she should do the same. “Luckily,” Bianca said, “she copied me.” And the snake?

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

Much to Bianca’s relief, the eastern brown snake slithered away, leaving Molly unharmed. As it disappeared into the tall grass, the school bus dropped off her three older children. But Bianca’s panic hadn’t subsided yet…

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

“I just started yelling at my other three kids to get in the car,” she said. “I got in the car and I was shaking.” And who could blame her? Her kids immediately noticed she wasn’t quite right.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

While on the drive back up the driveway, her 13-year-old daughter, Imogen (far left), asked, “What happened? Did you see a snake, mum?” Bianca nodded. “Yes,” she told the kids, and “it was at least two meters.” Her kids didn’t buy it.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

“Oh mum, it wasn’t that big!” Imogen said. But naturally, mother knew best. Back at home, she pulled out her camera and showed her kids the venomous reptile that’d come within inches of their little sister. And it shook them all.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

After seeing just how close Molly had come to the wrong end of a snake, Bianca’s older three kids didn’t want to go outside anymore. Worse, in showing the kids the photos, Bianca uncovered another nasty shock…

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

She’d been taking pictures of Molly for a while before the school bus showed up, and when she reviewed those photos, she learned just how long the snake had been in striking distance. The eastern brown snake posed beside Molly in three photos!

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

In the aftermath, Bianca couldn’t look at those now-infamous photos and didn’t sleep well for weeks. “Every time I shut my eyes I see that big snake and what could have happened,” she said. “I see Molly being taken away in an ambulance.”

But how did the two-year-old react to her brush with death? Well, when Bianca showed her daughter the photo, the toddler considered it for a moment. And then she said the funniest thing…

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

“That’s me!” Molly said gleefully, pointing at herself, blissfully unaware of the snake in the photo. Bianca couldn’t help but laugh. At least one of her kids wouldn’t end up scarred by the moment!

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

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