Danny Anderson learned the hard way this week that rattlesnakes—even decapitated ones—deserve respect and should never be taken lightly.
According to wire reports, the 53-year-old resident of Prosser, Washington felt reasonably certain he’d dispatched a 5-foot rattler Monday evening after he and his son pinned the snake to the ground with an irrigation pipe, then totally severed its head from its body using a shovel.
“When I reached down to pick up the head, it raised around and did a backflip almost, and bit my finger,” Anderson said. “I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose.”
The snake’s head landed in the back of Anderson’s pickup. And Anderson landed in the hospital, where he remained until Wednesday.
When he arrived at the local clinic some 10 minutes after the bite, Anderson’s tongue was already showing signs of swelling, indicating that he’d received a good dose of venom from the body-less snake.
Mike Livingston, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, said he’d never heard of anyone bitten by a decapitated snake before, but assumed (as we do) that there was enough life (and meanness) left in the critter to bite the hand that killed it.
In retrospect, Anderson said he’ll likely kill more rattlers in the future, but he’ll use his shovel to bury them on the spot.
“It still gives me the creeps to think that son-of-a-gun could do that,” he said.