In Central America, the fer-de-lance – a six-foot-long, poisonous pit viper – is responsible for roughly half of all snakebites. Earlier this year, television producer Steve Rankin received one of those bites while scouting locations for a Discovery Channel show. Thankfully, he survived and decided to write about his ordeal. His first-person account of a poisonous snakebite is the closest I’ll ever need to get to a snake again, thank you.
I scrambled up a five foot fallen tree. I paused,and glanced up ahead at the two guides before looking down to check for anything slithering near my feet. Then I jumped off the trunk.
Bang. It felt like I’d been stabbed in the left foot. I jumped away from the tree and looked back. I saw the writhing brown mottled outline of a snake. It looked maybe five or six feet long and as thick as my wrist. It was right up against the tree. I saw the large, distinct, arrow-shaped head of a pit viper. I knew it was venomous.
“Snake,” I yelled. Pompi and Gerhard thought I’d spotted one. “I’ve been bitten.”
They rushed 40 feet back to me. The whole time I kept my eye on the snake, so I didn’t lose it. It was maybe eight feet away from me.
One of the guides said, “Terciopelo.”
I looked at Gerhard, confused. “A fer-de-lance,” he said. “We call them terciopelo here.”
Within seconds, my heart started racing. I felt a painful burning sensation in my left foot. I put my weight on my right foot. I suddenly felt weak. The guys grabbed my shoulders and held me up. My knees immediately went to jelly. I was panting like a horse. “Breathe. Breathe slowly—in and out, in and out,” said Derek, a cameraman. “Try not to let the venom spread too quickly.”
“Easy for you to say,” I said.
Someone took off my boot. I dreaded what would be revealed. I tried to think positive. I thought, “Maybe I got lucky. Maybe it was just a warning shot. A hiking boot surely would protect me to some extent?”
Once the boot came off, the sock said everything. A red stain was spreading across the grey fabric covering my instep. “Crap,” I thought. The puncture wounds on the top of my foot were bleeding freely.
It's probably best to read the rest of the ordeal after you've digested your lunch because, rotting flesh. [Outside]