North Carolina man survives bite from venomous pet snake

RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina man, bitten by his venomous pet snake, was saved after a zoo 250 miles away rushed antivenin medicine to a hospital so he could recover.

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The Raleigh resident was bitten by a green mamba at his home on Sunday, The News & Observer reported. The reptile is normally shy, but its bite can be deadly, the newspaper reported.

“(If) you get bitten by a green mamba without antivenin, your chances of survival are very low,” Sean Foley, curator of herpetology at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina, told WRAL. “It’s a neurotoxic venom, so it’s going to affect your breathing.”

Green mambas inhabit areas of eastern Africa, including Kenya, Zimbabwe and eastern South Africa, and are not naturally found in North Carolina, zoo officials said.

The snakes can grow up to 6 feet in length, Riverbanks officials added.

Foley said he received a call on Sunday from North Carolina Poison Control, requesting 10 vials of antivenin, The News & Observer reported.

Without the antivenin serum, a person’s breathing can “shut down pretty quick,” Foley told the newspaper, and the man’s survival rate would have been “pretty low.”

The staff at Riverbanks Zoo packed a cooler with the vials and drove it to the nearby Lexington Medical Center, WRAL reported. The cooler was then flown by helicopter to North Carolina.

“We wanted to help get it there as quickly as possible to mitigate any symptoms,” Foley told the television station. “(With) some of these bites, there is a lot of pain involved, and you can have a lot of tissue destruction if you do not get these products to these people very quickly.”

The process took about four hours, Foley said.

Medical personnel gave the man, who has not been identified, four vials of the serum, The News & Observer reported. According to the Raleigh Police Department, the man has been released from the hospital and is recovering, the newspaper reported.

The police department’s animal control officers responded to a call from the hospital about the bite, spokesperson Donna-maria Harris told The News & Observer. No investigation has been opened because no laws were broken.

Officers followed up to be certain the man was in compliance with state laws about housing the snake, Harris told the newspaper.

North Carolina law requires venomous snakes to be housed in a sturdy enclosure with a lock, but there are no restrictions to own one, WRAL reported.