A mother is facing child abuse charges after allowing a snake to bite her baby daughter, films it while she laughs and posts the video on Facebook.
Footage shows Chartelle Geanette St. Laurent, 34, holding a plastic tub up to the one-year-old child with the snake inside.
The baby girl reaches up to touch the creature and can be seen pulling her hand away quickly when it bites her.
St. Laurent can be heard laughing at her daughter’s reaction.
She then posted the footage on Facebook explaining that she was teaching her child a lesson about local wildlife in Sebring, Florida, where they live – and how it is important not to touch unknown animals.
After coming under a barrage of criticism online, she explained that she knew the small red rat snake was too small to pierce her daughter’s skin. She also deleted the post on Facebook.
The snake had already failed to bite her and her son, she said, adding that she had no regrets after finding the snake on the driveway of their property.
“It had bitten me and my son and didn’t leave a mark, several times,” she told ABC Action News. “So, I thought it was a good opportunity to introduce her without actually getting hurt.”
Talking about how people had been outraged by the footage, she said: “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 went on to say her daughter was not hurt, but cried because she was scared of the snake’s quick strike.
“His teeth are too small to actually puncture the skin. So he’s very harmless.”
In her rural location on nine acres of land, she said it was essential her children know and understand how to handle all kinds of wildlife and what to stay away from.
She said she had grown up learning how to handle reptiles by assisting her father, a Jupiter police officer, with animal service calls.
The woman also said she believes her methods are teaching her children a valuable lesson.
She added: “My daughter is not scared of snakes but she doesn’t want to touch them, either. That was my goal.”