Man still critical after Mojave rattlesnake bite near Klondike

Published: Jun. 22, 2017 at 5:23 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2017 at 10:32 PM CDT
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MARTIN COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - A man who lives south of Klondike, TX remains in critical condition in a Lubbock hospital after being bitten by a deadly Mojave rattlesnake on Sunday.

According to the Lamesa Press-Reporter, 53-year-old Milton Richards tried to kill the snake in his backyard around 9 p.m. The snake bit Richards on the hand and within minutes, he began having seizures from the effect of the venom. The venom was paralyzing him before he could get to the hospital, 25 miles away in Lamesa.

His family tells us he was then flown to UMC in Lubbock, where he remains in critical condition.

As of Thursday afternoon and after more than 80 doses of anti-venom, he is still hospitalized in the intensive care unit. His wife Debbie told the Press-Reporter the venom is causing problems and is not letting his blood clot properly.

Richards was bitten by the snake near the Three League community in northern Martin County, about five miles south of Klondike.

Summer time means an influx in the number of rattle snake bite patients, according to UMC.

"It's not uncommon to see one a week or so, during the peak hours," Medical Director of the Emergency Center at UMC, Dr. Christopher Piel, said.

Dr. Piel says a venomous snake bite is toxic to our body's tissue and bloodstream.

"But the main immediate toxicity would be to the bloodstream. If it gets into the bloodstream it is toxic to your red blood cells and can affect your ability to clot," Dr. Piel said.

He says they treat those patients with anti venom on a case by case basis- and will give more doses depending on how the patient responds.

"But there are more potent types of venom in different types of rattlesnakes. And it just depends on the amount of venom that was injected, and the toxicity that venom displays as to how severe the bite is," Dr. Piel said.

Lubbock Texas Game Warden PIO Aaron Sims says if you plan outdoor activities like hiking or camping, you should wear tall boots or at the minimum- closed toed shoes.

He encourages bringing a walking stick, and says to keep an eye out for hiding spots as he says these snakes don't always rattle.

"Be sure you look where you're going to be walking, right? You don't want to step over big logs, if you're uncovering any rocks or moving debris, possibly wood debris. Remember that is native habitat for some of these snakes," Sims said.

But he says if you spot a rattlesnake on your property, it is best to leave it be, and let professionals come to remove it.

"If it's minding its own business and it's in your yard, it will probably make its way out there, outside your yard here in a couple minutes. So you know, just maintain your distance. I wouldn't suggest going up and trying to capture, trying to kill, trying to grab any snake...locate that snake, maintain your surroundings and then slowly back away," Sims said.

Both Dr. Piel and Sims say in the case you are bitten, remain calm and immediately go to the closest hospital.

Sims says it is also helpful if someone can try and snap a photo of the snake, so doctors will know what species it is and can treat accordingly.

The following information is from The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department:

There are two groups of rattlesnakes: the more primitive forms belong to the genus Sistrurus. Texas has two:

Western Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus), light gray, with brown oval blotches along the middle of the back and smaller blotches along each side. They are two feet in length and found through the middle of the state in grasslands, marshy and swampy areas.

Desert Massasauga (S.c. edwardsii), lighter in color than the western massasauga, smaller and more slender. Found in the Trans-Pecos, western Panhandle, and the lower Rio Grande Valley.

The more advanced forms of rattlesnakes belong to the genus Crotalus and Texas is home to six:

Western Diamondback (Crotalus atrox), Brown, diamond-shaped markings along the middle of the back and alternating black and white rings on the tail. Averages 3 1/2 to 4-1/2 feet in length, and can reach seven feet. This is the most common and widespread venomous snake in Texas, found in all but the easternmost part of the state.

Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) also known as Canebreak rattlesnake is a large, heavy-bodied snake averaging 4-1/2 feet. Brown or tan with wide, dark crossbands. Tail is entirely black. Found in the eastern third of the state in wooded areas in wet bottomlands.

Mottled Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus) is light cream or pink background with widely spaced, dark crossbands and mottled areas between the crossbands. Small and slender with an average length of about two feet. Found in the mountainous areas of West Texas.

Banded Rock Rattlesnake (C.l. klauberi)Similar to the mottled rock rattlesnake, but darker greenish-gray in color. Found only in the extreme western tip of Texas.

Blacktail rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus) is gray to olive green with dark blotches along the back and a black tail. Averaging a length of 3-1/2 feet, it is found from Central Texas throughout most of West Texas in bushes and on rocky ledges.

Mojave rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus) is similar to the western diamondback in markings, but smaller and more slender and found only in extreme West Texas.

Prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) is a slender rattler that is greenish or grayish, with rounded blotches down the middle of its back. Average length is about three feet and its found in the grassy plains of the western third of the state

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