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This rattlesnake was decapitated — but it still bit a man and the venom nearly killed him

A Texas man needed more than two dozen doses of antivenom after a decapitated rattlesnake bit him.
A Texas man needed more than two dozen doses of antivenom after a decapitated rattlesnake bit him. Jennifer Sutcliffe

A Texas man is recovering in hospital after a near-death experience with a rattlesnake — that was decapitated.

On May 27, Jeremy Sutcliffe and his wife Jennifer were doing yard work at their home near Lake Corpus Christi in southern Texas. Jennifer said she was pulling weeds in her garden when she came across a four-foot western diamondback rattlesnake hiding in the flowers.

READ MORE: ‘Everything was tingling’ — Lethbridge woman recovering from a rattlesnake bite

She screamed and Jeremy, who was mowing the lawn, ran over to investigate.

“My husband came over and grabbed a shovel and cut off the head,” Jennifer said. “We have very small dogs and I have a grandchild who was luckily not there at the time.”

Part of the Western diamondback rattlesnake. Snakes can still bite and inject venom for up to two hours after being decapitated.
Part of the Western diamondback rattlesnake. Snakes can still bite and inject venom for up to two hours after being decapitated. Jennifer Sutcliffe

Around 10 minutes later, Jeremy went to pick up the snake’s remains to dispose of them, and that’s when — unexpectedly — the reptile bit him.

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“The head actually turned around and grabbed onto his hand. He had to rip the snake’s head off,” Jennifer said.” “He got all of the snake’s venom in the bite.”

A snake can still bite and release venom for up to several hours after it has been decapitated.

WARNING: Disturbing image below. Picture of Jeremy’s hand after the snakebite. 

Jennifer immediately got Jeremy into the car and called 911 to figure out what local hospital had antivenom. But after driving for two miles, she said her husband began to lose consciousness, lost his vision and started to have mini seizures.

He was eventually airlifted to Christus Spohn Shoreline Hospital, she said.

The hospital staff had to mix the antivenom, but Jennifer said in the meantime, her husband’s body was shutting down.

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Jennifer Sutcliffe and Jeremy Sutcliffe.
Jennifer Sutcliffe and Jeremy Sutcliffe. Jennifer Sutcliffe

“They were loading him with heavy amounts of fluids and his blood pressure bottoming out,” she said. “His body was going into septic shock, his organs were shutting down, and he was bleeding internally.”

Jeremy was then put into an induced coma and placed on a ventilator.

The doctors gave him the needed 26 doses of antivenom, whereas a normal patient gets two to four doses.

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Jeremy came out of his coma May 31 and is now in stable condition, Jennifer said, but he still has a long recovery ahead. Jeremy is suffering from acute renal failure that requires dialysis and is receiving aggressive wound care to his hand.

Jennifer has set up a GoFundMe to help with the medical bills.

“He’s thankful to be alive; it was very scary,” she said, adding that she hopes what happened can act as a cautionary tale for those who encounter rattlesnakes.