A family in South Africa got an unexpected yuletide gift — if you could call it that — when they found one of the world’s most venomous snakes nestled in their newly decorated Christmas tree.

Per USA Today, the Wild family in Robertson, South Africa, admired the tree after decorating it when they spotted a snake slithering within the tree.

  • The family was “admiring our work when my wife Marcela pointed to our two cats and said she thought there might be a mouse in the tree as they were staring at it,” Rob Wild told The Mirror.
  • It wasn’t a mouse. It was a snake.
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Here’s the thing, though — it wasn’t some jolly ol’ snake that you’d find under your porch. No, it was one of the most dangerous ones out there.

  • “I Googled what snakes are in our area and it came up immediately as a boomslang,” Rob Wild told CNN. “I thought ‘holy Moses, this is the king of all poisonous snakes.’”

Per New York Daily News, the family called a snake catcher to secure the reptile. The snake reportedly measured somewhere between 4 and 5 feet long.

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It makes sense that the boomslang snake was found in the tree. “Boomslang” is Afrikaan for “tree snake,” per the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The snake is a little shy unless it is threatened. It has a deadly bite with venom full of hemotoxin, which can kill your red blood cells and can damage organ and tissues.

  • “The venom is so potent that even a scratch could cause serious symptoms,” according to the South African National Biodiversity Institute. “The snake’s haemotoxic venom is slow-acting and may take 24–48 hours to produce serious symptoms. Symptoms include internal and external bleeding, headaches, nausea, sleepiness and mental disorders.”
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