Turns out, even beheaded rattlesnakes can be dangerous.
That’s what 53-year-old Danny Anderson learned as he was feeding his horses Monday night, when a 5-foot rattler slithered onto his central Washington property, about 50 miles southeast of Yakima.
Anderson and his 27-year-old son, Benjamin, pinned the snake with an irrigation pipe and cut off its head with a shovel. A few more strikes to the head left it sitting under a pickup truck.
“When I reached down to pick up the head, it raised around and did a backflip almost, and bit my finger,” Anderson said. “I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose.”
Venom was spreading
His wife insisted they go to the hospital, and by the time they arrived at Prosser Memorial Hospital 10 minutes later, Anderson’s tongue was swollen and the venom was spreading. He then was taken by ambulance 30 miles to a Richland hospital to get the full series of six shots he needed.
The snake head ended up in the bed of his pickup, and Anderson landed in the hospital until Wednesday afternoon.
Mike Livingston, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, said the area where the Anderson’s live is near prime snake habitat. But he said he had never heard of anyone being bit by a decapitated snake before.
“That’s really surprising but that’s an important thing to tell people,” he said. “It may have been just a reflex on the part of the snake.”
If another rattlesnake comes along, Anderson said he’ll likely try to kill it again, but said he’ll grab a shovel and bury it right there.
“It still gives me the creeps to think that son-of-a-gun could do that,” he said.