A poisonous snake that bit the resident of a home in St. Francis is an African Gaboon viper, which has the largest venom sack and longest fangs of any venomous snake in the world, an animal control official said Tuesday night.
The snake's venom destroys blood vessels, causing whatever it bites to "bleed out," said John McDowell, field officer supervisor with the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission.
Staff from the commission, with the assistance of an official from the Milwaukee County Zoo, removed the viper, along with 35 other exotic animals, from a residence in the 4200 block of S. Clement Ave., where the victim was bitten shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday, McDowell said.
According to St. Francis police, the victim was handling the venomous snake when he was bitten. He called 911 because he knew he would need immediate medical attention.
Another Gaboon viper, along with three cobras - one possibly a king cobra - a temple viper, eight western diamond back rattle snakes, a pattern-less black krait, a small monitor lizard, two dwarf crocodiles and a number of non-venomous snakes were also removed from the home, McDowell said.
St. Francis does not have an ordinance prohibiting the housing of such animals.
The venomous snakes removed from the home are extremely lethal to human beings, McDowell said.
The owner of the animals agreed to turn them over to MADACC, provided they are not put to sleep, McDowell said.
By law, the owner could claim the animals back within seven days. St. Francis officials have put a hold on them, which could place the matter in court if the owner chose that option, he said.
For now, plans are to donate one of the vipers to the Milwaukee County Zoo and the other venomous snakes to an institution in northern Illinois that specializes in venomous reptiles, McDowell said.
The remaining animals were signed over to MADACC, he said.