Snake Catcher Paralyzed, Struggled To Breathe After Two Black Mamba Bites

A snake catcher in South Africa was left paralyzed and fighting for breath after a black mamba bit him on the hand twice.

The black mamba is one of the deadliest snakes in the world. If untreated, a bite from the venomous snake has a fatality rate of 100 percent and can kill a person within 30 minutes. The venom of a black mamba contains neurotoxins which work to shut down the nervous system, paralyzing victims. As long as antivenom is administered quickly, many victims will make a speedy recovery, although this depends on the severity of the bite.

Gideon Vorster, who catches snakes in the Limpopo area, had just caught the snake in a ceiling at a house in Nkowankowa, accompanied by fellow snake catcher Richard Max Radue, when it bit him twice on the hand, injecting its potent venom into his body.

Radue took Vorster to the hospital in time for him to receive emergency treatment at the intensive care unit. He survived and is now recovering from the ordeal.

Vorster told Newsweek being bitten was "not a great feeling." He said his body went numb with pins and needles, and then became paralyzed. He also struggled to breathe.

Pictures posted to Facebook by Vorster showed his hand after the bite, it having swelled to nearly double its usual size.

Vorster said he is "much better now" after receiving treatment.

Black mamba
The black mamba had marks on its body, indicating that it was injured Gideon Vorster

Black mambas are native to Africa and live in savannas, rocky hills and open woodlands. They often wander into houses when looking for places to hide. Mambas may also slither into residential areas while looking for prey, such as rats or feral kittens.

Black mambas are usually shy and reclusive but they can become aggressive when cornered.

In his Facebook post, Vorster said that while catching the snake, he noticed it was shedding its skin and had marks on its body. After rescuing the snake, the snake catchers were checking it for injuries when it lunged and bit Voster on the hand.

During the shedding process, a snake's vision can become impaired. This causes them to feel more vulnerable and more likely to lash out.

On Facebook, Vorster said he did not play with the snake, saying he was "careful as always."

"As we all know snakes are still wild animals and unpredictable and this situation was an unfortunate incident out of my control," he said.

Vorster is unavailable for snake catching while he recovers.

Snake bite
Vorster's hand swelled to twice its usual size. Gideon Vorster