Thinking quickly — and fearlessly — Rosie grabs the snake, frantically swinging it around at speed, before her parents, and her pet dogs, hear the commotion and run outside.
“It was insane,” her father, Luke Wightman, said in an interview Thursday on Zoom. “When I saw her lassoing it, I was actually scared.”
Luckily, Rosie is unharmed, and Luke — still dressed in his pajamas — manages to take hold of the snake and throw it to a side, enabling the guinea pig to scamper off — shaken but largely unharmed.
The family can be seen consoling Rosie — who eventually manages to retrieve MaxiBon from the bushes and nestle him in her arms.
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Sunday’s incident made headlines this week after Rosie’s uncle, an Australian radio host, posted the video on his Instagram page.
Rosie’s mother, Grace, said that in the aftermath of the event, they focused on “consoling Rosie and having a family moment,” and wondered if anyone would believe what had just happened — until they realized their security camera would have captured the whole incident.
It was “wild” to hear a “bloodcurdling scream” from Rosie and see her “whizzing around with a … snake attached to her guinea pig,” Grace added in the interview Thursday. All the family members were already in their pajamas, getting ready for the week ahead, she added, when the snake sprung.
Rosie, who was unfortunately not immediately available for comment as she was already asleep when The Washington Post called, told Australia’s 7NEWS earlier that she had operated on “instinct.”
“I didn’t even think it through, I was just like: Grab the snake, grab the snake,” she said. She heard her guinea pig “constantly screaming” while the snake appeared to be “wrapped around his neck,” then, after she swung it around, the reptile loosened its grip on MaxiBon’s neck but shifted its jaws to his leg instead, she said.
“I’m just really happy that my guinea pig is still alive,” she added.
Grace said MaxiBon, a mixed brown and white guinea pig named after a popular ice cream snack, has “never had so many cuddles and treats in all his life” since the incident.
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Guinea pigs are popular pets, known to be sociable and living up to seven years, according to the Humane Society of the United States. They can create a wide range of vocalizations including whistling and purring to communicate and require gentle grooming and exercise.
While some people also keep snakes as pets, many species can be dangerous to humans — particularly in Australia, which is home to some of the most venomous snakes in the world. And experts say, while Rosie’s actions were brave, they were also risky.
“I can certainly say that’s not a ‘safe’ way to handle snakes, though I can appreciate the girl’s panic and reflex to rescue her pet,” Steven Hall, snake venom expert and pharmacology lecturer at Lancaster University in England, said Thursday. “The only thing that made me breathe a little easier is that the snake was preoccupied with the pet in its mouth and the girl spun it by the end of its tail, making it more difficult and less likely for the snake to swing around and bite her instead!”
Despite her heroism, Hall said, “the unfortunate reality is that it likely would have been best and safest in this scenario for the girl and her family to leave the snake and pet alone.”
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It’s unclear from the video what species of snake attacked MaxiBon, although the Wightmans think it is likely to be a python, a conclusion Mark O’Shea, snake expert and professor of herpetology at the University of Wolverhampton in Britain, thought was plausible. Pythons feed on small mammals and although they do not have venom they can employ tight constriction to kill their prey.
Other options include an elapid, he said, a family of highly venomous snakes , or a brown tree snake, which have to chew their prey to inject venom, O’Shea added.
“Ordinarily I would disapprove of someone swinging a snake or any other kind of animal in circles, but this is an exception; she is saving her pet,” he said. “She is one very brave and lucky young lady.”
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Hall has advice for others who may find themselves in a similar scenario.
“I recommend getting away from the snake as quickly as possible,” he said. “Call the authorities so someone with the skills and tools to deal with venomous snakes could be brought in to remove the snake.”
However, he urged humans not to fear snakes, but instead “treat them with a healthy respect,” by giving them space.
Happily, in this particular case, all’s well that ends well — for all species involved.
MaxiBon is “totally fine” and enjoying his new found fame, Luke said — and even had a glamorous photo shoot with local media on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Luke said, he had thrown the snake into a neighbor’s garden before going over to remove it later. He found the snake “wrapped up in a bamboo tree, it was in perfectly good nick. … It was actually fine.”