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.
In February of 2016, a brown snake - the second most venomous snake in the world - bit Janice Taylor in the foot in Perth, Australia. But the extremely lethal venom didn’t actually take effect right away. As Taylor recalled, it was only after she drove herself home that she realized she was in trouble, tumbling from her car onto the ground:
“My head was spinning, my brain was spinning, I couldn’t move my legs.”
The brown snake’s venom caused her face to swell and thinned her blood to the point that it was seeping through the pores in her face, which, coincidentally, is what allowed doctors to pinpoint the source of her condition.
After being bitten on the semi-urban trail she hiked almost daily, Lorraine Jonsson wrote, that “[by] the time I heard the snake shaking its tail, the three-foot serpent had already sunk its fangs into my ankle. Twice. Within seconds, I started feeling the effects: blurred vision, jelly-like legs, and a horrifying sense of panic.”
And the real kicker for the unfortunate Jonsson was that the rattlesnake that bit her packed more than the standard "blood-thinning, tissue-bursting hemotoxin" of most rattler bites. Her snake also injected "a rare and more powerful neurotoxin that quickly interfered with [her] brain’s signals to [her] respiratory system." Although Jonsson survived the bite, living to write her tale, she did spend three weeks in the ICU recovering from organ failure and massive swelling.
In 1957, despite being offered medical attention after being bitten by a boomslang, Dr. Karl Patterson Schmidt turned treatment down in favor of cataloguing his symptoms. Apparently, he didn’t think he would die, a thing about which he was completely wrong.
After being bitten in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, Schmidt wrote of nausea, massive blood loss, chills, uncontrollable shaking, bleeding from his gums and in his bowels. He recalls peeing blood.
After a brief respite from the pain, Schmidt became exceptionally ill before dying shortly thereafter in the hospital.
In 1949, an Australian man named George Rosendale was bitten by a 7-foot-long taipan snake after disturbing it by moving the logs it was hiding beneath. Because of the extreme rurality of the town, there was no anti-venom on hand to give Rosendale. However, thanks to quick intervention from locals, who bound the leg and then cut the bite site so the venom would slowly seep out, he didn’t die immediately. That state didn't last, though; over the course of his life-saving treatment that fateful night, he was "pronounced dead" a total of four times.
After becoming unconscious, he was transferred to a hospital where blood was flown in by a volunteer. The airstrip was lit by car headlights so the pilot could land. Rosendale was kept in the hospital for 20 days and was unable to regain the weight he’d lost for several months.