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Raleigh man survives after being bitten by venomous pet snake

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By Joe Fisher

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    RALEIGH, North Carolina (WRAL) — A Raleigh man took himself straight to the hospital over the weekend after he was bitten by his pet.

The thing is, the pet was a venomous green mamba snake, requiring antivenin to be flown in from a South Carolina zoo.

A green mamba is shy and slender, but it’s also quick and deadly.

“[If] you get bitten by a green mamba without antivenin, your chances of survival are very low,” said Sean Foley, curator of herpatology at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C. “It’s a neurotoxic venom, so it’s going to affect your breathing.”

That’s why time was of the essence Sunday when a man showed up at UNC Rex Healthcare in Raleigh after getting bitten by his green mamba at home.

Foley said the North Carolina Poison Control Center called him Sunday night to inquire about green mamba antivenin.

“This is the third time in the last six months or so that we have had to supply antivenin for a venomous bite,” he said.

Riverbanks Zoo staff quickly packed a cooler with 10 vials on ice and drove it to nearby Lexington Medical Center. The cooler was then flown by helicopter to UNC Rex.

“We wanted to help get it there as quickly as possible to mitigate any symptoms,” Foley said. “[With] some of these bites, there is a lot of pain involved, and you can have a lot of tissue destruction if you do not get these products to these people very quickly.”

UNC Rex physicians used four vials of antivenin to treat the unidentified man, who’s expected to recover.

The Raleigh Police Department’s animal control unit is still investigating the circumstances surrounding the snake bite, but police said the green mamba is back with its owner.

North Carolina law requires venomous snakes be kept in a sturdy enclosure with a lock, but otherwise, the state doesn’t restrict anyone from owning one.

While Riverbanks Zoo is home to three green mambas, Foley said he wouldn’t want one in his home.

“They are out there as pets. I don’t know how common it is. It’s not something I would ever want to have as a pet,” he said. “They are not particularly aggressive, but they are really fast, and they can be difficult for an untrained person to work with. It’s not something I would personally want to have at home, that’s for sure.”

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