The good, the bad, the ugly! Anatomy of a snake bite

Buy Copperhead Print By Kathleen Chute

The good, the bad, the ugly! Anatomy of a snake bite, by Andy Huff

This is not a story that I will be sugar coating because there a few out there
that need a wake up call and some that just need to be aware of the hazzards
involved when working with or simply living in areas where venomous snakes are
found. When I say working with, I mean legitamate studies, not a snake enthusiat
that thinks it’s okay to pick up a “hot” snake.
I’ve been bitten by a western diamond back rattlesnake (Crotalus a. atrox) while
living in Alamogordo New Mexico. I was fortunate that is was not a deep tissue
bite. The power of venom on the human body can be a life changing and sometimes
a life threatening event. But my bite and many others that occur each year most
certainly can and could have been avoided. If you are bitten by a rattler or a
cottonmouth here in Tennessee and it’s a full envenomation, I promise you, you
will most likely be hospitalized. I’m by no means trying to scare anyone but I
must stress the reality of what you will be facing. The smart approach is not to
handle these vipers in the first place. Remember, these snakes are only trying
to defend themselves from what they perceive to be a predator, you! But if you 
don’t take my advice and you make a mistake, well after the 2 fangs sink onto
your flesh, you will instantly feel a searing pain at the bite area. Hemotoxin
is the main
component with lower doses of nuerotoxin making this a powerful combination.
Strong digestive enzymes go to work on blood and muscle tissue beginning a
digestive process at the local bite area. The hemotoxin aides in the digestive
process in prey items even before the snakes swallows them. The animal would
rather not waste it’s much needed venom on something it can’t eat. Spring time
is a crucial time for emerging vipers since they have not had a meal since fall
and they need to eat making venom something they can not afford to waste. Their
best defense against an aggressor is simply staying hidden. But when a person is
not aware the the snake, the animal reacts sometimes with catostrophic results.
At the top of the venom scale here in Tennessee is the timber rattlesnake ==
(Crotslus h. horridus) followed by the Western cottonmouth (Agkistrodon p.
lucostoma) then the tiny yet rare western Pygmy rattlesnake ( Sistrurus
miliarius strekeri) and lastly the
copperheads both northern and southern (agkistrodon c mokeson) (agkistrodon c
contortrix). Severity of the bites depend on the amount of venom injected, the
species of viper and the health of the victim. Side effects of venom can include
elevated blood pressure and difficulty in breathing. Direct effects include
severe blistering and swelling that can affect blood flow to the limb. Muscles
can rupture in the hands or feet in some cases. Venom can have a horrific effect
on the human body. Death is rare with today’s medical technology and the
introduction  several years ago of the new crofab anti serum which is actually
only used if the victims body cannot fight off the venom long enough and vital
signs start to deteriorate. Crofab is derived from the venom’s of western and
eastern diamondback rattlesnakes and cottonmouth along with a sheep ovine blood
component. If there is anyone out there reading this, feel free to correct my
information but list references.
Now if there is anyone reading this article that owns exotic hot snakes, be
warned! First off understand that Tennessee law requires that you have proper
permits to have these snakes in your possession. If you do not then it’s only a
matter of time before you are caught. I am against the importation of exotic  
snakes for private breeding and resale and I’m against the sale or exportation
of local snakes. That is in line with state and federal law. If you own an
exotic hot snake you are at risk of dying from your animal unless you have quick
access to other forms of anti serum. Crofab will not work on exotic snake venom.
A bite from an African black mamba (dendroaspis polylepus) will kill it’s owner
no doubt unless they have it on hand and can administer it properly. Many people
who enter the world of venomous snakes understand the risk while some flirt with
disaster. Some will put their neighbors at risk just for the sheer fascination
of owning a
snake. It’s not worth the risk. I am passionate about snakes and don’t own a
single one.
The venoms of many snakes are today used for medicines to treat life threatening
diseases. Some hot snakes are collected and kept for the production of antiserum
here in the United States and snakes in other countries are collected there for
the same purpose.
Understand that there is a degree of discipline that must be exercised when
working with these creatures. Without it, the results can be catastrophic
depending on what snake has just bitten you.



Adult Cottonmouth Gaping

Adult Cottonmouth Gaping

  • lauren

    noy toych a snake

    • fawnfoto

      Welcome to Reptile Us, no touch snakes. You never know if its a harmless snake or not. The are so beautiful though.