Chapter 18-1: Rattlesnake Bite!

For a close-up of the tail Bob carefully placed the hook of his snake stick on the back of the rattlers neck pinning it to the ground, so he could grab it right behind the head and prevent the fangs from striking him. Unfortunately, he made a beginner’s mistake, he pinned the head to the body of the snake and not to the hard ground.  Just as he went to grab the back of the head the snake whipped around and sank one fang into his right index finger before he pulled it away and threw the snake to the ground, cursing.

The snake slithered off unharmed and disappeared back into the pile of boulders. Bob was pretty calm; actually, he was mad at himself for having made such a stupid mistake. After forty years of handling venomous snakes he had finally been bitten. We walked briskly back to our car, five minutes away that seemed to take forever.

Within minutes Bob was in a hospital bed in the emergency room and his blood was drawn and we waited for the tests to ensure that before administering any anti-venom he was not allergic to it. Within two hours of being bitten, his first dose of anti-venom was administered as his right hand began to swell.

The venom of the Western Diamondback is primarily hemotoxic and attacks and damages red blood cells. This disrupts the body’s ability to clot blood and can cause widespread damage to organs and tissue. Snake venom begins to act in seconds with enzymes in the venom breaking down tissue that help liquidize the snake’s prey before it digests it.

Bob holding a 64" Bullsnake, note wrapped the wrapped finger (recovering from the rattlesnake bite)

By Saturday he was discharged after receiving fourteen vials of anti-venom. His finger was heavily bandaged, and he was told to report to the New Mexico Orthopedics Quick Care Center adjacent to the hospital the following week.

The only positive side was that during his first stay in the intensive care unit Bob noticed that the pain at the base of his neck was not as severe. We had read that scientists were studying snake venom as a source of pain relief. I contacted the New Mexico poison center to see if they knew anyone doing research, perhaps Bob could be a patient in a trial. No one knew of any such trials.