The woman, who is the girlfriend of the man who runs Nockalm reptile zoo, said that she reached inside the terrarium to check whether the snakes had eaten the food she had given them. She got too close to a Texas rattlesnake, who bit her on the hand. Her 63-year-old partner called medics and she was taken to hospital by helicopter.
Luckily someone in the St. Veit/Glan district had an antiserum for the rattlesnake bite which was delivered to the hospital. The woman is said to be in a stable condition and was under observation on Tuesday.
It is not the first time that a snake has bitten someone at Nockalm. In March 2011 a visitor reached inside an open terrarium and was bitten by a South American rattlesnake. He collapsed shortly afterwards and died on the spot - despite an antiserum being administered.
Rattlesnakes are predators that kill their prey with a venomous bite. The venom travels through the bloodstream, destroying tissue and causing swelling, internal bleeding, and intense pain. However, they rarely bite unless provoked or threatened and if treated promptly the bites are not usually fatal.