Virginia State Police Race to Get Anti-Venom to Man Bitten by His Deadly African Pet Viper Snake: Officials

An image of an African Pit Viper snake.
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The man's identity or place of residence was not disclosed. He remains in serious condition at VCU Medical Center, hospital officials said, according to WTVR News.

Virginia State Police (VSP) jumped into action when a man was bitten by his pet snake, an African pit viper, according to published news reports.

The man's identity or place of residence was not disclosed. He remains in serious condition at VCU Medical Center, hospital officials said, according to WTVR News.

On Sunday morning around 8 a.m., the Virginia Poison Control contacted the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, which provided 35 vials of anti-venom for emergency transport by state police to the VCU Medical Center, aquarium spokesperson, Mackenzie Di Nardo, told Inside Edition Digital. 

“Anti-venom is maintained at the Virginia Aquarium as a safety precaution for staff as the Aquarium cares for exotic, non-native species,” Di Nardo said. “This is common practice for zoos and aquariums that care for exotic animals as exotic antivenoms are not commonly found in general hospital settings. A supply of antivenom remains at the Virginia Aquarium to continue operations safely.”

The incident took place last weekend when the man was bitten by the poisonous snake. He was initially treated with anti-venom treatment from the National Zoo in Washington D.C., but another dose was needed to save his life, the Virginia State Police said, according to WWBT News

Corrine Geller, a spokesperson with the Virginia State Police Department, told Inside Edition Digital that officers retrieved the anti-venom treatment from the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach and then transported it to Richmond’s VCU Health. 

According to Geller, as wild as this sounds, this was not a unique situation.

“We’ve actually transported anti-venom before to VCU Medical Center before so this was not the first time,” she said.

A spokesperson at VCU Medical Center told Inside Edition Digital that they were unable to provide any information since the person’s name had not been released. 

Colin Walker, Assistant Curator of Fishes, Herpetology, and Invertebrates, at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center told Inside Edition Digital that Gaboon vipers have massive venom glands and are able to inject the largest volume of venom of any snake, up to 10 milliliters, which is several times the lethal dose an average human can withstand.

Walker said there are two species of Gaboon vipers, East African and West African, which are found throughout West and Central Africa, from Senegal to Zimbabwe, and as far south as South Africa.

These species live primarily in forested areas where their cryptic skin patterns make for effective camouflage. And, they are close relatives of the Puff Adder.

“Gaboon vipers are one of the heaviest venomous snake species in the world, only outweighed by exceptionally large King Cobras, exceeding 6 feet in length and weighing more than 20 pounds,” Walker said. “They are generally regarded as docile and much more reluctant to strike than their Puff Adder cousins.”

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