VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Police and health officials in Virginia raced to help save the life of a man in Richmond who was bitten by his own pet viper, which is listed as one of the world’s deadliest snakes.
Virginia State Police said they got the call from the Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department requesting the “expedited delivery” of antivenom treatment from the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach.
Police said the man was bitten by his own pet snake overnight. The snake, an African Pit Viper, also called a Gaboon Viper, is listed as one of the top 10 deadliest snakes in the world.
“Bites are common with the snakes that are endemic to our area,” said Natasha Tobarran, D.O. with Virginia Poison Center. “The concern is with these snakes that are not endemic to our area — are native to our area — is if these patients require treatment with antivenom, is trying to locate the antivenom and then trying to get it to the health care facility.”
VCU hospital had already given the man antivenom treatment from the Smithsonian National Zoo, but officials said they still needed to give him another dose to save his life.
“The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center provided 35 doses of anti-venom for emergency transport by state police to the VCU Medical Center,” Mackenzie Di Nardo, Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center Public Relations Manager, told WAVY.
She said the Virginia Aquarium keeps anti-venom as a safety precaution, which is common practice for zoos and aquariums that care for exotic, non-native species.
A State Police sergeant was able to get the anti-venom from an employee at the Virginia Beach Aquarium and rushed from Virginia Beach to Richmond.
The man’s condition was not immediately known.
There was a similar incident in North Carolina a few weeks ago in which a paramedic and a doctor helped save the life of a man bitten by a Gaboon Viper.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Gaboon Vipers, which can grow to nearly 7 feet and weigh up to 18 pounds, are extremely venomous but typically docile.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story had incorrect quote attribution. The story has been updated with the correct attribution.