All Creatures Great and Small

Snakebites

Snakes are out. I saw a bullsnake this morning. If bullsnakes are out, so are the other species, including rattlesnakes. I want to give you some information on snake bites and I have experience as I have been bitten 9 times by venomous snakes. The first time I got bit was in the Magdalena Mts. near Magdalena, NM. My friend Cal and I were hunting snakes (not to kill). I turned over a rock and a very small, less than a foot long, banded rock rattlesnake was under there. He ran into a hole, so I did some fairly stupid and grabbed it by the tail. I thought I could just yank him out and then catch him. The hole was wider than I thought as he turned around and struck my left forefinger. I let him go. I asked Cal what to do. It was painful with a burning sensation. We drank a beer and by then it started to swell up. We decided a trip to the hospital would be good. By the time we got to the Socorro hospital, my entire left hand had swelled up. They didn’t have what was necessary to treat me so they put me in an ambulance and sent me to Presbyterian hospital in Albuquerque. By the time I got there my whole left arm was swollen and very painful. They gave me anti-venom and I laid in bed for a couple of days with my arm propped up. About three days later they released me. That weekend I drove back to Magdalena to look for snakes. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t afraid of them. I found one, picked it up and brought it home for my collection. I had a lot of snakes in those days and most of them were venomous.

About two months later, I was feeding a copperhead in my collection when he struck at the dead mouse in my hand and missed the mouse and hit my same finger that was previously bitten. It was late at night, so I decided I would treat it myself by drinking a bottle of tequila. It didn’t work. I passed out and when I woke up the next morning the entire left side of my body was swollen. I couldn’t believe my heart was still pumping. I called Cal and he rushed me to a hospital. They gave me anti-venom as well, but they missed the vein in my other arm a couple of times and it swelled up. So I was laying in bed with both arms swollen. A nurse came in and said she had to give me a catheter. I said what for. She said I wasn’t urinating enough. I said give me some beer and I will pee as much as you want. She wouldn’t do that. So they gave me the catheter and that was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I screamed so loud I bet they heard me in the entire hospital. Then they gave me some pain reliever. The next morning I decided to check out. They told me I would have to sign a waiver, and I said I would sign anything. Just get this damn catheter out of me. The took it out and that was almost as painful as sticking it in. My ex-wife Sandi came and got me and took me home, where I laid in bed for a few days with ice on my snake bit arm. The swelling went down and I was okay.

The other times I was bitten it as either dry bites where no venom was injected or such a little amount there was little swelling, so I didn’t go to anymore hospitals. Nine bites and two hospital trips. All the bites occurred between 1980 and 1985 and alcohol was always part of it. When I quit drinking in 1985, I never got bit again and to this day, I still handle venomous snakes. It was determined at one time that most snakebites occur on young males under the influence of alcohol. I proved that theory.

If you are prone to pick up snakes, including venomous ones, like I am, please don’t drink. Drinking and driving is stupid and so is drinking and picking up rattlesnakes.

About askthebugman

I have been in the pest management industry for over 40 years. In that time I have used almost every pesticide available to control so-called “pests”. With this experience, I have learned over the years that the pesticides we use are far more dangerous than the pests we are trying to control. As a result, it has become a passion for me to improve the quality of life for humans and the planet, by assisting people to not only become more educated and aware of their environment – but also by learning to manage their home and business with a sustainable and healthier approach to tending to unwanted infestations of bugs. Please enjoy my blog posts, check out my publications, utilize my services, or simply stay in touch if you have a bug question…

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