Police are investigating a video a Florida mother posted to Facebook, which shows her laughing as her 1-year-old daughter is bitten by a red rat snake.
The mother, who has not been named because she has not been formally charged with a crime, said that she doesn't regret provoking the snake to bite her daughter, according to WFTS.
She lives on a rural nine-acre property in Highland County, Florida, where she comes into contact with a variety of wildlife every day, including the red rat snake.
"It had bitten me and my son and didn't leave a mark, several times," she said. "So, I thought it was a good opportunity to introduce [my daughter] without actually getting hurt."
The video, which has since been removed from Facebook, shows the mother holding the snake in her hand while her young daughter sits in the chair. The snake strikes and the girl begins crying. The Highlands County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that it is investigating the incident and will charge the mother, if appropriate.
"People are too sensitive," the mother said. "They just think that I hurt my child intentionally. The people that know me know that I would never hurt my children."
According to the University of Florida's Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, the red rat snake is a non-venomous reptile that is "found throughout Florida in virtually every terrestrial habitat."
The snake is identifiable by reddish-orange blotches that are outlined in black. It usually eats frogs, insects, birds and mice. It's considered to be an excellent climber and can often be found hiding in attics or barns.
The mother says that she found the snake on her driveway outside her property and decided to bring it inside to introduce it to her child.
"His teeth are too small to actually puncture the skin," the mother told WFTS. "So he's very harmless."
She said that she grew up learning how to handle reptiles and assisted her father, a police officer, with animal service calls. She now hopes to teach her children the same lessons she learned as a child. According to her, the child was not hurt, only afraid of the snake's quick strike. It was meant to teach her daughter a valuable lesson about what kind of animals to avoid.
"She's not scared of snakes but she doesn't want to touch them, either. That was my goal."
Sources: WFTS, University of Florida's Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation / Photo credit: mrdorkesq/Flickr