A man who was left paralysed after being bitten by a venomous coral snake is now "fighting for his life," his family has said.

Jeffrey Phillips was attacked outside his Alabama home by the reptile, which is one of the most dangerous species of snake in the US.

His children were the first to spot the creature and Mr Phillips, from Gilbertown, initially thought it was a harmless king snake.

He then decided to catch it and give it as a present to his older brother, who has owned snakes in the past, local station WTOK-News reported.

His mother Judy Kell said: "Jeff went to pick it up … and he actually was holding it and he let the children touch the snake.

"Not knowing that it was a coral snake, he thought it was just a king snake."

Image: Coral snakes are among the most dangerous in the US. File pic

But shortly after, the reptile bit Mr Phillips, who was taken to Anderson Hospital in Mississippi, where he remains in intensive care.

He was due to begin a new job in two weeks and was set to marry his fiancee Angela Patrick in August but the wedding is now on hold.

As well as being paralysed due to the snake's venom, Mr Phillips has suffered neurological and vision damage and he has been breathing through a ventilator.

"He will then need extensive physical therapy to learn how to walk, eat, write and all other every day activities," according to Mr Phillips' GoFundMe page, which was set up to help the family pay for his medical expenses.

Ms Kell said: "I've had my breakdowns, you know trying to hold it together. It's scary knowing that my son could die."

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Ms Patrick told WTOK-News: "He was about to start a job actually in a couple of weeks. So, he was laid off for the time being. He was about to start a job but he can't do that now."

"I hate that it was him, I really do," she added. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody."

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