Sep
22
2007

List of people bitten on the tongue by rattlesnakes now slightly longer

A Rattlesnake: You know, I probably wouldn't put it in my mouth, but I hate to pass judgment on this sort of thing.  (photo by 4x4jeepchick on flickr.com)
A Rattlesnake: You know, I probably wouldn't put it in my mouth, but I hate to pass judgment on this sort of thing. (photo by 4x4jeepchick on flickr.com)
A Portland man recently placed a sober rattlesnake into his drunken mouth, and was bitten on the tongue. This brings the universal tally of people bitten on the tongue by rattlesnakes up to four (the other three being, of course, the man who discovered rattlesnakes; herpetologist and pioneer in ethnomedicine, Jeannette San Pierre; and Sammy Hagar).

In an effort tom impress his ex-girlfriend, reptile enthusiast Matt Wilkinson placed the head of a 20-inch rattlesnake in his mouth at a friend’s barbeque. He had found the snake beside the highway three weeks earlier, and believed at the time that it would not harm him because it was “a nice snake.” His ex apparently wouldn’t take his word for it, and so he attempted to prove her wrong.

Soon after this Wilkinson was near death, with his tongue so swollen that it completely blocked his throat. After his ex-girlfriend drove him to the hospital (that’s the kind of ex-girlfriend I want) doctors cut a hole in his neck so he could breath, and then administered an antivenin.

Where’s the science here, you ask (this is a science blog, after all)?
Well, the snake – snakes are science. And cutting a hole in Matt’s neck – that’s probably science too. And there are a few science-related lessons to be gained here:
1) Don’t put anything you find beside the highway into your mouth, especially if it’s a rattlesnake.
2) Rattlesnakes don’t like to feel like they are being eaten, and will defend themselves if the situation arises.
3) It takes six beers and “a mixture of stupid stuff” to get a 23-year-old male to reach snake-eating levels of drunkenness.
4) Ex-girlfriends can still be an asset in assuring that you pass on your genes.

The story did not say what happened to the snake.

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