True Stories

13 People Describe What It Feels Like to Be Bitten by a Venomous Snake  

Justin Andress
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Across the world, there are more than 700 different species of venomous snakes. About 1/3 of these fellas are capable of killing a human being with a single strike. The number of victims these killers have claimed in the US alone would surprise you.

Yep, snakes are everywhere, and poisonous snakes are so common it seems every continent has their own brand of feared serpent. Hopefully, you’ll never have to worry about coming into contact with one of these beasts, but if you’re curious about what is it like to be bitten by a cobra, viper, or rattlesnake, you’re only human. Though a lot of the people who come into contact with venomous snakes might not make it out alive, some have survived to discuss what it’s like to be bitten by one of the world’s deadliest snakes. 

What happens to your body when a poisonous snake bites you? Read on to find out.

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To Survive, You Might Have To Treat Yourself
To Survive, You Might Have To ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 13 People Describe What It Feels Like to Be Bitten by a Venomous Snake
Photo: CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Nurse Ann Wakefield didn’t even feel a lot of pain when she was first bitten by a taipan in 1995. It was as though the highly venomous snake had simply touched her leg. However, 10 minutes later, the symptoms kicked in.

She recounted, “blurred vision, like looking through perspex with water running on it; and an unbelievable headache. It took 20 minutes to reach the hospital. By then, I had awful stomach cramps and could hardly breathe. There was no pain at the bite for about 4 hours. When it began, it was awful, very intense. It lasted for 6 weeks.”

The thing that probably saved Wakefield? Her ability to critically analyze the situation and treat herself in her moment of panic: "I had tied my shirt as tight as I could, round my leg above the bite. I had sat down and was prepared. Warwick (my husband) came down with the Toyota. 'Get in', he said. I said, 'No, bandages first'. When the bandages were on, I got in the car which was right beside me."

It Can Cause You To Simply Drift Off Into Oblivion
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In Gaza in 2004, a traveler was bitten by a king cobra. He describes the pain as immediate, even though more symptoms didn’t develop for more than half an hour.

Once they did, though, the tourist remembered: “I became drowsy, developed a banging headache... about half an hour after that I lost the ability to move my leg and then I lost consciousness...apparently I had some kind of fit... After two days I still couldn't move my leg but I slowly got movement back as the swelling went down and I spent two weeks learning to walk” again.

Your Blood Might Feel Like It's Boiling
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In March of 2016, Mitzi Hazell had venom spat in her eyes by a Mozambique spitting cobra. Fortunately, a neighbor rushed her to the hospital in time to spare her. Then, two weeks later, Hazell was bitten by a black mamba.

Said Hazell, “Within minutes I knew I was in trouble. I felt a terrible burning, like pins and needles, in my leg. It felt like my blood was boiling. The pain was radiating up my leg; I was battling to breathe and started feeling weak.”

Hazell was rushed to the hospital by the same neighbor who’d previously saved her life only to discover that there was no anti-venom onsite. Then, another neighbor sped her to a second hospital where she was able to be saved. Thank goodness for helpful neighbors.

You Might Not Hear A Rattler Rattling Before It Strikes
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For rattle snakes, tattling is a sign of fear not aggression. Ergo, if a rattler is pissed off at you, it’ll strike without warning. One survivor of a rattle snake bite explains: 

Rattlesnakes' "first line of defense is to blend in with their surroundings. Many people who are bitten either step on a snake, like I did, or they accidentally put their hand on a snake."

Rattlesnakes are found in 46 different states in North America; however, their venom isn’t often lethal. It’s just super duper painful.