Australian teenager bitten by most venomous snake

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Media captionThe boy is said to be in a serious, but stable, condition in hospital

Police in Australia are investigating how a teenager near Sydney came to be bitten by the world's most venomous snake.

The 17-year-old boy was bitten on the hand by an Inland Taipan snake, which usually lives in desert areas.

The boy is in a serious but stable condition in hospital after being given anti-venom.

A drop of Inland Taipan venom is enough to kill 100 people and causes paralysis.

The snake is also more commonly known as the fierce snake, because of the venom's strength rather than the reptile's temperament.

"Police are now attempting to establish how the youth came to be bitten, and hope to speak to the young man once he is considered well enough," New South Wales police said in a statement.

Officials at Mater hospital in Newcastle City, where the boy is being treated, said that the anti-venom was crucial to his survival.

"We had anti-venom in stock, we keep what's called polyvalent anti-venom and that covers all of our snakes," toxicologist Geoff Isbister told ABC News.

The Inland Taipan, described as shy and reclusive, can grow up to two metres long.

It is usually found in Australia's Northern Territory and Queensland, hundreds of miles away from the town of Kurri Kurri, on the coast to the north of Sydney, where the incident happened on Wednesday.

The police do not believe that the incident was related to a break-in at the nearby Hunter Valley Zoo on Sunday that saw the theft of four pythons and two alligators, the police statement added.

Judith Martin, from Hunter Reptile Rescue service, which handled the snake, told the BBC that it would be sent to a reptile breeding programme.

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