Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center helps treat Richmond man after being bit by deadly pet snake

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Snakebite Strategy
Posted at 4:58 PM, Mar 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 17:21:59-04

RICHMOND, Va. - The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center helped treat a man that was bitten by one of the deadliest snakes in the world.

On Sunday, State Police were contacted by VCU Police Department needing an expedited delivery of anti-venom treatment from the Virginia Beach Aquarium.

A man was bit by his own pet snake, an African Pit Viper. That is one of the top ten deadliest snakes in the world.

VCU hospital treated the man with anti-venom treatment from the National Zoo, but needed another dose in order to save the man's life.

A State Police Sergeant took possession of the anti-venom from an employee at the aquarium and rushed it to Richmond. The treatment was then provided to VCU emergency personnel in a short period of time.

News 3 asked the aquarium about the last time they've had to use anti-venom or send it somewhere. They told us they've never had to use it to medically treat anyone.

"We sent 35 vials. One dose is 10 vials, I believe," said Cady Conklin, an aquarist with the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. "We sent what we had to spare, keeping a little bit on hand in case we were to have an incident."

The aquarium also told us they do not create or process the anti-venom and that they are "unable to speak to the details of how it is made." The anti-venom supplied is called a polyvalent anti-venom, which is effective on several snake species, including the cobras in the aquarium's care.

The aquarium does not have any African Pit Vipers but it does have two cobras, and Conklin said that's why they keep an anti-venom on-hand. She added that it can treat ten different types of snake bites. Conklin also stated that local hospitals have anti-venom that's used to treat bites of snakes that are native to Virginia.

Experts warn that there are venomous snakes in Virginia including the copperhead, cottonmouth, and timber rattlesnakes.

Conklin says it's best to keep your distance if you see one, but if you or someone you are with is bitten, you can use a compression bandage around the wound and call for emergency help immediately. She said it's also a good idea to take a picture of the snake if possible, to help identify it.