While it always pays to be very cautious around rattlesnakes and other venomous creatures, one man in Corpus Christi, Texas is helping to drive home the point that you should keep your distance from their severed heads, too.
Local news affiliate KIII-TV recently reported that homeowner Jeremy Sutcliffe was doing yard work on Memorial Day weekend when he encountered one of the potentially deadly rattlers, a 4-foot-long Western diamondback. He severed its head with a shovel. When he went to dispose of the carcass, the reptile managed one last act of defiance and bit his hand. Immediately experiencing the effects of the snake’s venom, including seizures and vision loss, the man was airlifted to a hospital. Physicians administered 26 vials of antivenom. His physician, Michael Halpert, told media that Sutcliffe is currently in stable condition and is expected to recover.
In a chat with Gizmodo, antivenom expert Leslie Boyer explained that the severed head of a snake can continue to function and possibly kill “for a long time afterward.” A headless body can also rattle because being cold-blooded means their organs do not stop operating as quickly as a warm-blooded animal's would.
If you encounter a rattlesnake, avoid it by slowly backing away from its immediate area and call an animal control facility to help you. Venomous snakes will not let a minor injury like decapitation stop them from sinking their fangs into the nearest lump of flesh they can find.