A boy who nearly had his toes bitten off by an eel got the last laugh yesterday when he ate the creature for lunch.
Theo Chadfield, 8, was meant to be helping his granddad Allan Davies fence the riparian planting on their Mangorei Rd, New Plymouth, farm on Saturday.
Instead, when he got hot, he stripped down to his undies and went for a swim in the Te Henui Stream.
"I asked Granddad if there were eels in the stream and he said no."
Davies said he had gone to check on Theo, who was only shin deep in the water, when he saw him try and fail to take a step backward.
"He couldn't move." When Davies pulled Theo from the water they discovered a large eel dangling from his foot.
Theo said the eel had clamped on tight but let go when he was lifted out.
"It was still clinging on but then it plopped onto the ground and Granddad kicked it back into the water."
Although the eel didn't manage to take any of Theo's toes off, it did leave them grazed and bloody.
Davies bandaged Theo's foot and wrapped a cloth and some black duct tape around it.
"He was so brave, he didn't even cry."
The eel's teeth felt like sandpaper, Theo said.
After having a bit of rest in the sunshine, Theo and Davies went back to inspect the eel and found there were two writhing furiously in the stream.
They tried to lure the eels in by feeding them bits of luncheon sausage, breadcrumbs and biscuits from their lunches, but the knife and small pitchfork they had to catch them with were not big enough.
Later, they collected a gaff and some rope and managed to hook both the eels.
Davies said it might have been a good thing the eel got its mouth around four of Theo's toes.
"They have a death grip. If it had just got one toe, it would've spun around and ripped it off."
Yesterday the family smoked the eels and ate them for lunch, and Theo was pretty pleased to have had his revenge.
"He made a very big mistake biting my toes."
- Taranaki Daily News