Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Left: Canebrake rattler photo from Kingsnake.com.

Lesson: Don't leave luggage open on the porch!

Snake crawled in man's luggage in SC and bit him when he unpacked in VA.

The Associated Press • March 25, 2008

McLEAN, Va. -- A high school coach emptying his luggage after a team trip to South Carolina was bitten by a small rattlesnake that had somehow gotten into his bag, authorities said.

Andy Bacas in was stable condition at Inova Fairfax Hospital, fire officials said. He remained hospitalized Tuesday morning.

Bacas, a rowing coach at Yorktown High School in Arlington, told authorities he felt a sharp pain on his hand Monday when he reached into his luggage. He then saw the nearly foot-long snake and slammed the suitcase shut.

Fire and rescue workers took the suitcase outside, opened it and blasted the snake, identified as a juvenile canebrake rattler, with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. The chemical essentially froze the animal to death.

"The guy who responded had seen (the fire extinguisher technique) done on TV," Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Ben Barksdale said.

Bacas' son, Peter, said the luggage had been left open on a porch during the trip to Summerton, S.C., which is about 75 miles northwest of Charleston. Barksdale said he had no information that the snake was deliberately put into the luggage.

Bob Myers, director of the American International Rattlesnake Museum in New Mexico, said it's conceivable that a snake would crawl into luggage seeking warmth or shelter.

The venom from a canebrake rattlesnake can be particularly harmful, but a young snake is not usually large enough to deliver enough to be lethal, Myers said. Adult canebrakes can grow to 6 feet.

"There's an old wives' tale that says a baby rattlesnake bite is worse than an adult bite, but that's just not true," Myers said.

Three or four people die each year from rattlesnake bites in the United States, out of perhaps 8,000 bites a year, Myers said.
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ArrogantWorm said...

Damn, it wasn't the snake's fault. Granted, pissed off snakes aren't anywhere near joy to handle, it's understandable that the fire department was a bit lost. Still, though.

thene said...

A few weeks ago, I started going on blithe wanders through the woods with my dog.

About a fortnight after that I woke up in the middle of the night and got thinking 'hey, waitaminute, I'm in Americaland now...doesn't that mean I should be watching every step for snakes, spiders, snapping turtles and crazy people with guns?' :O I've not had any trouble yet but... *has the willies now*

belledame222 said...


eastcoastlife said...

I'm fascinated with snakes but wouldn't dare to hold them.

The people from China would try to catch the snakes and cook them! Snake meat is very nutritious.

Zan said...

I got a story for you -- I remember when I was a kid, one spring my parents were turning their mattresses. Anyway, when they picked up the top one, in the middle of the bed was a big ole rattler. Alive and pissed off at being disturbed. It was all hissing and rattling and I was looking at it like....THAT was in their bed??? That damned thing could have slithered out at night and bite someone! Needless to say, Daddy killed that one too. (Like he killed the one's head that I stepped on as a three year old. I think that's when my mother started going gray :)


Yikes! I am usually not very squirmish but snakes seriously creep me out. I would probably have a panic attack if this happened to me--no joke...