Snakebites - Who Gets Bitten & Who Dies?

Newboomer

Gold supporter
AH legend
Joined
Sep 10, 2016
Messages
2,070
Reaction score
3,991
Location
Nevada
Media
13
Member of
NRA, SCI, American Legion, Freemasons
Hunted
RSA, Maine, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Alaska, California.
That's why I do my Africa hunting in their spring, March, April. It is usually too cold for snakes to be very active. In three hunts in the Eastern Cape I've never seen one and hope I never do. If I should see one it's going to be a him or me situation and it ain't going to be me. I hate the damn things.
 

Red Leg

Lifetime bronze benefactor
AH ambassador
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
6,712
Reaction score
19,665
Location
Texas Hill Country
Media
285
Articles
5
Hunting reports
Africa
2
USA/Canada
5
Mex/S.Amer
1
Europe
3
Member of
SCI DSC life memberships / NRA Patron Life
Hunted
Mexico, Namibia, RSA, Germany, Austria, Argentina, Canada, Mozambique, Spain, US (15 states)
I have told this story elsewhere on this site, but my one meaningful experience with a poisonous snake was in Namibia nearly fifteen years ago. The tracker, PH and I were trying to close with a Kudu and were working our way through a large area of waist high grass. We stopped for a moment and I looked down and saw what looked like a length of heavy duty electric cable at my feet. Surprised, we were in the middle of nowhere, I looked up at the PH to find is hand almost in my face telling me to halt. Perhaps fifteen feet away a head and neck arose from the grass nearly chest high like the periscope of a U Boat. The mouth was half open and I can remember it was black as a pit. All three of us hardly breathed, and slowly the periscope submerged and the cable at my feet (15 bloody feet away from the head :eek:) disappeared. It was my one and only encounter with a black mamba. It made an impression.

I also saw a Gaboon Viper in Mozambique, but there the range was closer fifty yards. The mamba was long, elegant, and seemed almost intelligent. The Gaboon Viper was heavy and simply lethal looking.
 
Last edited:

JHT

AH senior member
Joined
Dec 21, 2020
Messages
78
Reaction score
85
Media
2
I’ve been bitten. Copperhead. And I may or may not have been in the sauce.

7620520F-9C56-4355-9E59-B030602D9E3D.jpeg
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Red Leg

Lifetime bronze benefactor
AH ambassador
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
6,712
Reaction score
19,665
Location
Texas Hill Country
Media
285
Articles
5
Hunting reports
Africa
2
USA/Canada
5
Mex/S.Amer
1
Europe
3
Member of
SCI DSC life memberships / NRA Patron Life
Hunted
Mexico, Namibia, RSA, Germany, Austria, Argentina, Canada, Mozambique, Spain, US (15 states)
That's why I do my Africa hunting in their spring, March, April. It is usually too cold for snakes to be very active. In three hunts in the Eastern Cape I've never seen one and hope I never do. If I should see one it's going to be a him or me situation and it ain't going to be me. I hate the damn things.
I am sure you meant to say early fall.

You will almost never encounter a reptile in July or August which is winter through southern Africa.
 

Trophyhunter01

AH veteran
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
158
Reaction score
256
Location
Texas
Media
29
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
SCI
Hunted
Namibia, Canada BC, US- WY, CO and TX, Limpopo SA
Dang copperheads hate those lazy jokers, we have lots of them. I have stepped on a few but never bit thank goodness.
 

deepwater

Bronze supporter
AH senior member
Joined
Sep 29, 2018
Messages
65
Reaction score
88
Twice I have been walking when I heard rattling right next to me when I put my foot down next to a bush. I kept going, no incident.
Poisonous snakes in the U.S. are tame compared to the ones found in the rest of the world. What really freaks me out are the spitting cobras that go for your eyes! At some distance and with accuracy, that seems almost like an offensive rather than a defensive response:
a. not retreating; b. rising up; c. spitting. Still, that is their defense. Which is why I find it so terrifying.
 
Last edited:

mark-hunter

AH legend
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
2,001
Reaction score
2,594
Media
24
Articles
2
Hunted
Namibia - Kalahari, Namibia - Khomas highland
@deepwater
I've seen cape cobra and mamba, in Namibia, first week of September, 2017.
During safari next year, june 2018, no snakes were encountered.

Mamba moved away from dusty road as soon as 4wd approached, we stopped, with just about enough time to make few photos.

Cape cobra, same way, few days earlier, while driving in the bakkie, cobra was taking sunlight on the hot dusty road.
When I heard a hiss, under the slow moving car, I banged a roof, for PH to stop the car.

Cobra raised up, hood inflated, looking me in the eyes 4 meters away.
I took good steady aim, with scoped 375, with crosshairs in the center of hood, hoping for a spine shoot, rifle rested on handrail. Safety off.
I asked, may I shoot, and PH said, dont shoot, take photo.
Ha!
So, I secured the rifle, and hastily took photo camera from the pocket. Few precious moments lost.

Interesting part is, after breaking the eye contact, cobra slacked down, hood deflated, and escaped from the road to nearest bush.
 

Lee M

AH fanatic
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
836
Reaction score
1,064
Media
75
Hunting reports
Africa
2
USA/Canada
1
Hunted
South Africa, USA, Canada
I had a cobra slither into a brush pile next to our pop up tent in Namibia in July. Fortunately i was just getting out as i shot a pig, and saw it coming in about 10-15 feet away. I often wonder what would have happened if we would have been in there 5 more minutes. It was near noon and it was likely getting out of the sun. PH was surprised to see one at this time of year.
 

Kevin Peacocke

AH elite
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Messages
1,506
Reaction score
3,592
Location
Harare Zimbabwe
Media
59
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
Cleveland Gun Club
Hunted
Zimbabwe, SouthAfrica
Snakes are far more common in Southern Africa than you think. Last year we had four snouted cobras and three stilleto snakes in the yard. The cats killed one, a tiny cobra that got the cat back, quite a time to heal. I am liking the idea of the knee high gaiters that are on the Eastern Cape post. Should do fine against everything but a mamba, if that comes along you need a fencing suit.
 

mark-hunter

AH legend
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
2,001
Reaction score
2,594
Media
24
Articles
2
Hunted
Namibia - Kalahari, Namibia - Khomas highland
And yet, judging by numerous photos on this forum, great majority of hunters wear short pants during safari.
 

Zambezi

AH enthusiast
Joined
Apr 29, 2020
Messages
254
Reaction score
603
Location
Johannesburg
Hunted
South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia
Lots of myths and legends about snakes.

Just for interest sake:

The shock therapy thing for snake bite does NOT work.

Black mambas and all other snakes do NOT hunt you or chase you. (If you are running away and it is following you it is only because it wants to get to its place of safety and it happens to be in that direction). The only snake that can be considered to "attack" man with some regularity is the retictulated python from SE Asia. This is only because it is very common around humans and it has many opportunites to do so and the fact that it has the size to take us on. It is the longest species in the world. Yes an anaconda may kill and consume a human but it is an opportunistic episode.

It is believed that the smartest snake it the King Cobra. It is said that when it is confronted it seems like it is working you out. And man are they big!! The longest and heaviest venomous snake.

Snakes are NOT aggressive. Some may seem that way due to their display or mannerisms. The cobra stands its ground and spreads its hood and/or spits (spitting varieties)ONLY when it feels it is threatened and cannot get away safely. The black mamba is said to be a "nervous" rather than aggressive snake. Its jerky movements when raised and the speed at which it moves would freak out most people.

Like all bites the speed at which it kills you depends on:
Toxicity of venom
Where the bite is located
Your activity (did you keep calm and still or run around freaking out and walk 2 miles back to the car)
Time until treatment and antivenin is received
Personal physiology
 

Red Leg

Lifetime bronze benefactor
AH ambassador
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
6,712
Reaction score
19,665
Location
Texas Hill Country
Media
285
Articles
5
Hunting reports
Africa
2
USA/Canada
5
Mex/S.Amer
1
Europe
3
Member of
SCI DSC life memberships / NRA Patron Life
Hunted
Mexico, Namibia, RSA, Germany, Austria, Argentina, Canada, Mozambique, Spain, US (15 states)
I absolutely hunt in shorts.

I grew up around water moccasins, copperheads, and rattlesnakes. I am far more likely to encounter one of those this afternoon on our place than I would any dangerous snake during a 14-day cool weather hunt in Africa.

It is perhaps worth noting that in all the conversations that I have had over the years with regard to hunting Africa with other hunters, professional hunters, outfitters etc, I have only heard of one instance where a client was bitten.

Around 10 or 12 years ago in the Caprivi a client (I will leave out the outfitter/PH), put his foot in his boot at dawn only to discover he was sharing it with one of @Kevin Peacocke 's "tiny cobras." He was initially treated in Rundu and then flown to Winhoek where I am sure he spent an uncomfortable several days. He fully recovered.

I do shake out my boots and clothing every morning if in a tented camp. :A Way To Go:
 

JimP

AH legend
Joined
Dec 14, 2014
Messages
2,375
Reaction score
3,339
Location
Gypsum, Co
Media
46
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
3
Member of
NRA, RMEF
Hunted
US (Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada. Canada (British Colombia), South Africa (Eastern Cape)
I do shake out my boots and clothing every morning if in a tented camp. :A Way To Go:

Heck, I even do that if I am in a comfortable lodge. You just never know what might be crawling around once you turn the lights out.
 

Kevin Peacocke

AH elite
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Messages
1,506
Reaction score
3,592
Location
Harare Zimbabwe
Media
59
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
Cleveland Gun Club
Hunted
Zimbabwe, SouthAfrica
That is why I always take a pair of flip flops to camp so if you need to go for a leak there is nothing hiding in them. Never walk barefoot at night in Africa, chance of a centipede or scorpion is ever present.
 

mark-hunter

AH legend
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
2,001
Reaction score
2,594
Media
24
Articles
2
Hunted
Namibia - Kalahari, Namibia - Khomas highland
centipedes, scorpions, snakes in the boots.... what else is there creeping in the night... do I really want to get back to safari????
(well, yes)
 

Tokoloshe Safaris

Sponsor
Since 2017
AH fanatic
Joined
Apr 8, 2016
Messages
783
Reaction score
1,286
Location
Milibizi, Zimbabwe
Website
www.tokoloshesafaris.com
Media
74
Articles
1
Member of
Life Member Safari International
Hunted
Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania
Anyone who takes poisonous snake bites lightly should look at the pictures in John Sharpe's book "Overcoming Fear". Somehow I cannot picture telling John "remain calm I am just going to Tazer you"!

John tells quite a story of what happened, the people who contributed to his survival and his recovery.
 

Nhoro

AH enthusiast
Joined
Sep 16, 2014
Messages
393
Reaction score
491
Media
26
Like all bites the speed at which it kills you depends on:
Toxicity of venom
Where the bite is located
Your activity (did you keep calm and still or run around freaking out and walk 2 miles back to the car)
Time until treatment and antivenin is received
Personal physiology
I would add a little to this- Most bites are dry bites ie no venom. The snake wants to escape and is defending itself when it feels threatened. So statistics show that most bites have little to no venom injected. However, the more you harass the snake, the more venom it will produce- so shoot it or hit it with a stick and then get bitten, you are in trouble The same goes for a snake harassed by your cat or dog. Mostly snakes move off from you-including mambas. Some come towards you if you are standing next to their hidey hole- as happened to my family on top of a kopje over new years beark. A python came straight towards us, my brother, my nephew and my two kids. It was sunning itself on a rock about 5m ahead and came straight for us in the waist high grass, it passed somewhere between us in thick grass and down a hole that was behind us. We just stood still and let it go, couldnt really see it.
 

Adrian

AH fanatic
Joined
Jun 18, 2013
Messages
837
Reaction score
1,424
Media
266
Articles
3
Hunting reports
Africa
6
Europe
1
Hunted
England year round and Namibia x5.
Five hunting trips to Africa and I've only ever seen one live snake.
I would recommend the African Snakebite Institute. They have a website and also a free app which profiles snakes, spiders and scorpions for a handy reference guide.
There is a ton of information there.
I am also completing an online course with them, a beginners guide to snake identification which cost me the grand total of 100R (£4.84).
It's been very enjoyable and interesting and is something to do during these lockdown weeks and you have access to all the material once you have paid for it.
There is also an advanced course which I will be doing for 500R.
One thing I have learned is that there are an awful lot of snakes and there are very few that can cause you an issue. Give it a go and enjoy the learning!

 

Mark Biggerstaff

Silver supporter
Bronze supporter
AH elite
Joined
Feb 28, 2017
Messages
1,177
Reaction score
2,237
Location
Texas
Media
208
Hunting reports
Africa
2
USA/Canada
1
I have only been to South Africa twice. I have only seen one snake a PuffAdder.
We had been walking and stalking awhile and stopped for a break. I went to relive myself of some fluids and as I was standing there a PuffAdder decided my right foot was in its path and started across my foot!!
That will make your heart stop ! He just slid on across and kept on going luckily !
 

C.W. Richter

AH fanatic
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
806
Reaction score
1,008
Location
Pocono Mtns., PA USA
Media
48
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
PA SCI, Various Endless Mtns., PA Region Clubs
Hunted
Zimbabwe 2x, Namibia 2x, RSA 2x, USA, Canada
It can happen, but the probability is slim. 'Live in rattlesnake/copperhead territory, have seen many mamba, cobras, adders on Safari, and cottonmouths (MANY!), pythons and rattlesnakes in the swamps of FL. They nearly always slither or swim away (or lie inactive in the cold). One Adder was waiting in the sand tracks, warming itself in the Namibian sun. It was spotted and dispatched prior to any of the school children stepping on it upon being dropped off by the big school wagon. A PH in Zim relayed a story of running over a mamba with the safari truck, when it began chasing the truck at low speed, raising up and staring at those sitting in the back! He said the best thing to do if faced with that situation on the ground is to stand perfectly still. Wally Johnson was bitten and survived! (as told to PHCapstick)...What a great sense of humor!

"For God's sake, Luis, help me! I'm dying!"

The Mozambican Shangaan looked at Wally with penetrating eyes, eyes whose quickness had saved lives time and again over the twenty years he had been with Wally, hunting in Mozambique. The head gunbearer's gaze was as bloodshot as usual, testimony to malaria, safari, and long hours after game. Though he was a good man--reliable as most to whom one entrusts one's life--he wanted nothing to do with this.
His patrão was going to cash in and he wanted no part in the proceedings.


"No, Baas, you're going to die. We have been together a long time, and I don't want to be there when you die. You must die alone. It is the way of things."
"My old friend of so much danger, help me! I don't want to die on a lonely road and the hyenas take my body. Help me! Vou morrer!"
"I can't, Baas. What if the authorities find out when you die? And you will die, because that is the worst snake. They will accuse me and the other men of killing you. What will I do then? You know they will then kill me ... ."
"Help me! You can do no less!"

Oh yes, he could do less. Odd chap, Luis.

On the day Wally was bitten by a massive Gaboon viper in 1957, it had been nearly a year since he had captured another snake, which he thought at the time to be a young python. He kept it in a wire cage and fed it mice, the snake apparently enjoying the easy life. Then, one day, Wally took it down to show his chums at the local sawmill. Much to his shock, the manager called him an unadulterated idiot and advised him that it was a Gaboon viper, one of the most feared snakes in Africa, and from whose bite only one person had been known to recover. Wally, however, told the manager that it was he who was the idiot. Clearly it was a young python.

"You madman! That thing is deadly poisonous! Are you some kind of nut?"
"No, man," answered Wally. "It's a python. I've even had my fingers in its mouth!"
"You've what?"
"Sure. No fangs [he not realizing that they fold up against the roof of the mouth and that the snake had somehow tamed down]. I keep it in a wire pen as a pet. Give it frogs and mice and stuff."
"Well, get it the hell out of here or I'll kill it. Now!"

The cocking clicks of his revolver were ominous in the silence, the other strong and able men having scrambled onto the dining-room table when Wally threw the snake on the floor for exhibition.


"Don't touch my bloody snake! You don't want him, I'll take him home."

And with that, he grabbed the snake by the back of the head and dropped him into a sack, the deadly reptile as docile as a pussycat.
But Wally was wrong. It was a Gaboon ... .
The Gaboon viper is certainly one of Africa's most dangerous snakes, possibly because of its lethargy, much like that of the puff adder, rather than because of great activity or aggressiveness. TheGaboon, happily, is a fairly rare snake. Its coloring closely resembles the colors of the Napier Clan tartan, the body pattern being a complex geometric of primarily tan, blue, and black, some colors having a white edge to them. It has nasal "horns" that, together with the striking colors, make it surprisingly difficult to spot in long grass. So Wally found out ... .

Bitis gabonica probably has the longest fangs of the vipers. It is a thick, short snake, the longest recently recorded Gaboon viper being from Sierra Leone and measuring 6 feet 81/2 inches. But it's one very bad bastard if it loses its sense of humor.
After several months in its wire cage, being ogled at by the local kids, the snake was found one morning with blood on its back, just as Wally was about to feed it. One of the children had jabbed the snake with a piece of wire and it died soon afterward. Wally pitched it into the bush and gave the matter little more thought. He should have.
It was almost a year later to the day when Wally was nearly killed twice. But let him tell you the story ... .


"I was down in the same area where I had caught what I thought was the baby python. I was staying for a couple of months to hunt for ivory, and I decided to take along a new cook my wife had just hired. The old guy had to leave for some reason or another and she got this new man. My wife insisted that he come along with me in the bush as I never seem to eat. She wanted somebody to look after me. She told him to pack up a chopbox with pots and pans, canned food, and anything else he thought he might need.
"Well, we got down to the spot within twenty miles of where I had been the year before, and I went out hunting with Luis on the first day we were there. As there wasn't much doing, I came back at about eleven in the morning. The cook didn't expect me back at that hour and hadn't prepared any food for lunch. I asked him what he had, and he said he was sorry that he had only expected me that evening.
"Patrão, look in that box there and maybe you'll find something I can cook for you, spaghetti or something. You must find something, patrão; there's a lot of tinned food.'
"He opened the box and I had a look through and pulled out a tin of spaghetti or bully beef or something. Then I happened to notice another tin there, picked it up, and found out it was a snakebite kit. My wife used to carry this outfit. She always had it at home, as she did a lot of gardening and was scared as hell of snakes. I turned to the cook and said, 'Hey, where'd you get this thing from?'
"'Na casa de banho. From your bathroom.'
"'But did the senhora give it to you?'
"'No, patrão. I just saw it and took it.'
"'Do you know what it is?'
"'Sim, senhor! Yes, I do. It's snakebite muti. I know about these things from the mission school.'
"'Hell,' I said, 'I'm going to be in trouble if the senhora finds out this thing is missing, because she doesn't like to be without this medicine in the house. Ah, on second thought, no faz mal. Don't worry about it. You did very well to bring the snakebite kit. I just hope that my wife doesn't notice you've taken it.'
'"Baas, you never know when you may be bitten by a bad snake."'

This book exists because of the forethought of that cook.

However are you going to survive a snake bite, if you haven't first survived COVID-19? :p
 

Forum statistics

Threads
37,660
Messages
720,016
Members
67,369
Latest member
DWill
 

 

 

Latest profile posts

Cervus elaphus wrote on Bob Nelson 35Whelen's profile.
Hi Bob, how's things going in Wyong?. Down your way a couple of years back but haven't been in NSW since Ebor for the fishing. just getting over some nasty storms up here in Qld, seeing the sun for the first time in a few days. I'm going to NZ in the spring and hope to clean up a few buns while there and perhaps shake the spiders out of my old .303LE (currently owned by my BIL). Cheers Brian
A couple pictures of the sable i chased for miles in Mozambique, Coutada 9!! We finally caught up to him and I had the trophy of a lifetime. Mokore Safaris, Doug Duckworth PH
sable Coutada 9.JPG
sable 2 - Coutada 9.JPG
Safari Dave wrote on egrmpty507's profile.
Did you purchase your hunt at a US SCI fundraiser?
uplander01 wrote on colorado's profile.
Heard you may have load data for the 500 Jeffery,.....any info would be appreciated. Was thinking 535gr, but already had a response that the 570gr would be a better way to go, not sure why.
Rickmt wrote on Leica Sport Optics's profile.
will Leica Amplus 6-2.5x15x50 fit on a pro success Blaser with low mount?
 
Top