Texas man nearly dies after being bitten by decapitated snake's head

A Texas man who cut the head off a rattlesnake he found in his back garden had to fight for his life after it's severed head bit him and released deadly venom into his body.

After beheading it with a shovel, he tried to pick it up, but it bit him. His wife, Jennifer Sutcliffe, put him in their car to drive him to hospital, but on the way, he started to have seizures.

Luckily, she met an ambulance on the way which alerted an emergency helicopter to rush him to the hospital.

Initially, Ms Sutcliffe told local news station KIIITV that doctors did not think he would survive, but after 26 vials of antivenom, he is recovering although his kidney function is weak according to trauma surgeon Michael Halpert.

An expert said killing the snake and cutting it into pieces is one of the worst things to do in that situation.

File photo.

Leslie Boyer, antivenom doctor and founding Director of the University of Arizona VIPER Institute, told Gizmodo: "It’s cruel to the animal and it leaves you with a smaller piece that’s venomous to pick up.

"It’s better to just back away at least two steps, and call an expert to remove it. Or move it yourself."

She explained that killing the snake should be a last resort, describing the Texas man's reaction as "a classic mistake".

Ms Boyer said people should only kill a snake only if it’s in a confined space and is an immediate threat.

She said: "People don’t realize that reptiles and mammals are wired differently.

The head end of a cut-up rattlesnake can continue to function, including the venom glands, for a long time afterwards and, in fact, the other half continues to work. It’ll rise and rattle.

She added that she had heard of snakes moving 12 hours after being severed, and has even consulted on a case where a mummified snake had poisoned someone years after the serpent had died.

She said: "So dead or alive, if the venom glands are still in the part with the fangs, it can still empty the venom glands through the fangs."

- Digital Desk

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