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Snakebite!

Discussion in 'Herp Awareness' started by BlackJack, Dec 15, 2007.

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  1. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    Like most non-venemous snake owners, I've been "tagged" a number of times by gartersnakes, boas and pythons.
    I've welcomed members to the club of "real snake owners" and prided myself on not being afraid of getting bit. After all, the bites are not much worse than papercuts and because they bleed so profusely, they rarely become infected.

    Well folks I have some really important advice for all of you: "You should really try NOT to get bit!" (Duh?)
    Our moderately-aggressive juvenile male chondro "Selmak" tagged me last Wednesday night on the back of my right hand and the biceps of my left arm. The marks have almost completely healed and disappeared already, but he apparently managed to damage a hand nerve which is making my life difficult and painful. Certain minor wrist movements now cause electric shock sensations that cramp all the muscles from the back of my hand up to my shoulder. Being right-handed, you can imagine how often those minor wrist movements occur each day! :(
    My doctor and my physical therapist say it could take 2-3 years before this nerve heals completely. (****!)

    So there it is: if like me, you thought "not venemous = not dangerous" -- think again. Most of our snakes are no problem, but I made the mistake of underestimating Selmak and thinking "I don't care if he bites me; it's not such a big deal!"
    If you know that your snake is a biter; protect yourself. Wear soft leather gloves, long sleeves and if it's a night-active snake, only handle during the daylight hours -- if at all.
    As much as we love our "babies" it's best to keep reminding ourselves that these are wild animals and should be respected as such!
    Take care! :)
     
  2. titus

    titus Elite Member Premium Member

    I must first say I'm very sorry for your bite related problem. I find it all too often that people who get bit are the ones who reach in the cage without a thought or care in the world. I've had even the most loving of corns react aggressively during one time or the other. While gloves and long sleeved shirts are a good suggestion. I would also suggest that a snake hook be used for first contact with any snake, then based off reaction the amount of handling be judged. This is what I do with all my snakes to jugde their reaction to handling and I must say I haven't been bit yet, though before I started doing this I had some close calls.
     
  3. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Ow Andrea! Im' sorry about that!
    Thats good advice from both of you.
    Another reason to avoid being bitten is to avoid injuring the snake. It is very easy during a bite to something as much bigger as we are for the snake to have a a tooth or teeth literally ripped out of its head. This can lead to the snake's mouth becoming infected. And if the tooth/teeth are lodged in you and it heals over it can lead to your injury becoming infected and festering as well.
     
  4. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    The snake hook is a great tool and one every snake owner should have and know how to use.
    I've never gotten bit by reaching into the terrarium to take out my snakes, although I know that is the way most people get bit.
    With the chondro-pythons, especially with Selmak, I always use a snake hook (or two) to get them out. The big mistake was taking him out at night.
    He is fairly aggressive during the day; taking him out at night was just pure stupidity on my part!
    He was OK at first. He came out easily on the hooks and I put him on the scale to weigh him. He stayed very calm. When I picked him up to put him back, I had to reach in front of him to open the terrarium door and that must have startled him; he snapped at my hand , then turned and gave me a good bite on my other arm. I quickly and carefully pointed him in the direction of the open terrarium and he just about flew inside.
    I feel very badly for having stressed him so unnecessarily. And Merlin is right: losing a tooth or teeth happens very quickly especially when it's a feeding bite and you jerk your hand away.

    3 MAJOR stupid mistakes here:

    1) I should not have taken him out after dark.
    2) I should have used gloves and worn long sleeves.
    3) My husband had just fed the babies, so there may have been the smell of pinkie mice in the air too.

    Moral of the story? If you are going to be VERY VERY stupid, you had better be VERY VERY fast! ;)
     
  5. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    Sorry to hear that Andrea. Nerve damage is a bummer. I hope you heal faster than the Doc says.
     
  6. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I too am sorry to hear of your situation Andrea. I must confess though, I too am one of those individuals that do not use a snake hook with my critters. (Honestly, I likely never will unless I get into venomous species.)

    I will not say the advice mentioned was wrong. In fact, call me a hypocrite because I actually agree with it. lol

    My outlook is likely a result of the years of training I have done to myself, but I am very stubborn and one of those people that "does things his way".

    I have always reached in and simply grabbed my snakes. I do make my presence known BEFORE I reach in, and I ALWAYS use a hand sanitizer before I take ANY of my critters out. (and "most" of the time afterwards as well. lol)

    I think I have accepted that I will occasionally be bitten. After all of the iguana scratches and bite attempts, I have pretty much just subsided to the fact that human error is going to result in consequences. Until I experience a situation like Andrea has, I don't foresee me changing my ways.
     
  7. barnkat

    barnkat Elite Member

    Wow! Sorry to hear your bite ended up being damaging. I agree with what everyone has said even Rich. I am one of those that just opens the cage, knocks to let them know i'm there and then takes them out. The only time this is usually a problem is when Teal'c or Chakotay are in shed, Selmac doesn't care. They are usually extremely mild mannered that leads us to be relaxed about taking them out, may get us in trouble some day. My older daughter used to get bit quite often by the ball python at school, she has a high protein diet, and he could smell it and thought she was food. She would just stay calm and wait until he let go or the other student came back in (he had worked with many snakes and was used to getting tagged, they like him!) and would remove him in a professional manner. There was one professor though, who would go absolutely nuts, while my daughter would tell him that she grew up on a farm and her mother always taught her that if she was working with animals she had to remember the thought processes involved are based on flight or fight, and any injury is her own responsibility. Good luck in your healing process.
     
  8. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    Thanks everyone.
    Rich, with ground dwelling snakes, I reach in and get them too; but getting a chondro off of his/her branch is tricky. You have to give them something that feels like another branch to climb on (the hook) and then tickle their tails until they let go. Sometimes I use just one hand and one hook.

    I agree that getting bit is something that comes with the territory. I'm still not afraid; but I have a lot more respect and will try not to forget it again. For my safety and the safety of the snake.
     
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