Farmer tells of his lucky survival after mamba bite

2016-02-04 10:45
Mooi River farmer Johan Oosthuizen recovers at home after being bitten by a snake on Monday evening. He was bitten on his finger when he picked up the snake, thinking it was dead.

Mooi River farmer Johan Oosthuizen recovers at home after being bitten by a snake on Monday evening. He was bitten on his finger when he picked up the snake, thinking it was dead. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - A Moooi River farmer who was bitten by what is thought to have been a black mamba on Monday is on his way to a full recovery.

Johan Oosthuizen was bitten by the snake on Monday night, and was immediately rushed to Estcourt Hospital for treatment.

Oosthuizen said it was around 19:30 on Monday when his son told him he had spotted a snake outside.

“I went outside and saw this black snake lying in the yard in front of the house.

“I thought it was dead, so I picked it up by the tail to move it, but it turned its head up and bit me on the finger.”

He said at first the bite burnt, and then his hand quickly began to swell as he felt the venom move quickly through his system, reaching his elbow.

“After 20 minutes, the venom had spread. It was very fast and very scary.

“I was frightened and my family immediately called an ambulance.

“When I got to hospital, the doctor told me I had been bitten by a mamba.

“He said that only one of the mamba’s fangs had penetrated the skin, and that things could have been a lot worse for me if it had bitten me with both fangs.”

Oosthuizen said he stayed in hospital overnight and was treated with a serum for the bite, as well as put on a drip and given pain medication.

“I am doing much better now.”

He was released from hospital on Tuesday morning and is recovering at home with family.

Pietermaritzburg snake expert Mark Enslin said he did not know of black mambas feigning death when threatened, as they were extremely aggressive snakes.

“Mambas usually strike repeatedly. They are known to bite a person more than once if they feel threatened,” he said.

According to an article by National Geographic, black mambas are fast, nervous, lethal and very aggressive when they feel threatened.

The article said they live in the savannas and rocky hills of southern and eastern Africa, and are Africa’s longest venomous snake, reaching up to 4.5 metres. “They are also among the fastest snakes in the world, slithering at speeds of up to 20 km per hour.”

“Black mambas are shy and will almost always seek to escape when confronted. However, when cornered, these snakes will raise their heads, sometimes with a third of their body off the ground, spread their cobra-like neck-flap, open their black mouths, and hiss.

“If an attacker persists, the mamba will strike not once, but repeatedly, injecting large amounts of potent neuro and cardiotoxin with each strike.”

National Geographic said black mamba deaths are still common as antivenin is not widely available in the rural parts of the snake’s range.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animals

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