Alcohol And Snake Bites

What do a majority of snakebite victims look like? They’re young, male snake handlers — and often they’ve been drinking.

Some might scoff, but studies have shown it to be true. One reviewed medical records of 86 rattlesnake bite victims from a single medical center. Pet snakes bit 14 people. All were men, and 64.3 percent were under alcohol’s influence at the time of the bite.

Another study had equally sobering findings. Examining 227 envenomation cases at a single hospital, researchers found male victims outnumbered females 9-to-1. The average age was 24, 57 percent were handling a venomous snake, and 28 percent had appeared intoxicated.

Both studies were conducted in the late ‘80s, but Judith Alsop of the California Poison Control System said the profile still fits. She offered four tips to venomous-loving herpkeepers.

1. Don’t tease, abuse or play with these snakes.
2. Drugs and venomous pets don’t mix.
3. Make prearrangements with local hospitals, especially if you keep exotic species, to ensure they stock the appropriate antivenom. Be prepared to give them the snake’s taxonomic name.
4. If you are bitten, promptly go to the nearest hospital emergency room. Don’t use tourniquets or ice, and no cutting or sucking.

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