A Florida mom may be charged for child abuse after taking the "once bitten, twice shy" idiom literally. The mom, 34-year-old Chartelle Geanette St. Laurent, posted a video on Facebook of her letting a red rat snake bite her 1-year-old daughter.
St. Laurent had found the 4-inch non-venomous snake on the driveway of her family's property. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission, red rat snakes kill their prey by constriction and are not dangerous to humans.
The mom tells WTSP that she grew up catching and interactive with snakes, and had seen poisonous snakes on her rural, 9-acre property before, so she thought this was a good learning moment.
In the video, which has since been taken down from Facebook, St. Laurent had the snake in a Tupperware container and put it in front of her daughter. When the baby reached for the snake, it bit her on the right thumb. As the daughter cries, the mom laughs in the background, which she says was because she was surprised.
After coming under fire for the video, St. Laurent defended her actions in an interview with WFTS.
"People are too sensitive. They just think that I hurt my child intentionally. The people that know me know that I would never hurt my children," she said. The mom said she also had the snake bit her and her son several times before, but it didn't make a mark. "His teeth are too small to actually puncture the skin. So he's very harmless."
The Highlands County Sheriff has submitted a charging affidavit for one count of cruelty toward a child to the State Attorney's Office, who will decide whether or not St. Laurent will be charged.
The idea that children should "play with fire," within safe boundaries and supervision, in order to learn valuable lessons and become more independent isn't uncommon.
"There's always ways to teach your children lessons and this just did not seem like a good way to teach your child," Scott Dressel with the Highlands County Sheriff's Office told WFTS.