Scientist Documents 24 Hours Following Snake Bite, Dies

Included below is a remarkable account of a deadly snakebite.

Aside from the possibility of death, the side effects of envenomation vary depending on the snake species and venom dosage, but they are certainly unpleasant and not often recorded in intimate detail.

In 1957 at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, famed snake expert and herpetologist Dr. Karl Patterson Schmidt documented the slow, painful effects of snake venom on his own body in a first-person perspective, which has been dubbed “the diary of a snakebite death”.

Dr. Schmidt first encountered his eventual killer in his own lab. Naturalist Marlin Perkins had sent him a juvenile snake for identification and Schmidt assumed it couldn’t inject a lethal dose of venom.

Unfortunately for Dr. Schmidt, the snake was a boomslang, which is capable of delivering a fatal dose of venom, even as a juvenile. As he handled the boomslang without caution, the snake bit him on the palm.

Image: William Warby via Flickr

Over the next 24 hours, Dr. Schmidt wrote down everything that he did and felt, even as he bled from every orifice.


In his last few hours, when asked if he wanted to receive medical care, he declined because it would “upset the symptoms.”

Boomslang venom causes so many small clots in the blood that it prevents the blood from clotting further, effectively causing the victim to bleed to death. Considering that, Schmidt performed a pretty amazing feat, continuing to document the venom’s effects on his body. He was truly a scientist to the end.

Watch the video below for the first-hand account:

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