West Texas man nearly died trying to kill rattler that bit him

Updated at 6 p.m. Monday: Revised to show Milton Richards was discharged from the hospital. 

A week after he was bitten by a venomous snake he was trying to kill, a West Texas man was released from the hospital.

Milton Richards, 53, encountered the rattlesnake on June 18 in his backyard about 80 miles south of Lubbock. The snake bit him on the hand, and within minutes, Richards began to have seizures, according to the Lamesa Press-Reporter.

The nearest hospital was 25 miles away in Lamesa, and paralysis started to take hold before Richards, who was rushed to the hospital by relatives, could get there. He was given several doses of antivenom before being airlifted to the University Medical Center in Lubbock, where he was removed from intensive care Tuesday, but returned later that day, the newspaper reported.

Read: When snakes bite, Dallas Zoo comes to the rescue

Three days after he’d been bitten, Richards’ wife Debbie told the newspaper he still had a lot of venom in him, which was preventing blood from clotting.

By noon Tuesday, Richards had been given more than 40 doses of antivenom. By Thursday, that number had risen to 80 doses, KCBD-TV reported. 

“I think he’s doing a little better,” Debbie Richards told the newspaper Friday.

On Monday morning, Richards was finally well enough to go home, hospital spokesman Eric Finley said.

Hospitals stock the antivenom CroFab for bites from copperheads, rattlesnakes and other native species.

Texas is home to six or more rattlesnakes, including the Mojave rattlesnake, which is what reportedly bit Richards. Some experts have suggested that he may have been bitten by the similar-looking western diamondback.

The Mojave rattlesnake is smaller and more slender than the diamondback and is found only in extreme West Texas, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. 

What to do (and not do) if bitten by a snake:

The dangers from a snakebite run the spectrum from swelling to death. Several factors affect the severity of a bite including the snake, the number of strikes and how deeply the fangs penetrate. The risks also depend on where a bite occurs — in a vein or a muscle, for example — and how long it takes to start treatment.

With warmer weather, more snakes are coming out of brumation, similar to hibernation. If you come across one, leave it alone. But if you are bitten, here’s what to do — and not to do:


For questions about what to do, where to go or the effects of snake venom, you can also call the North Texas Poison Center at 800-222-1222.

If you have no means to get to an emergency facility, or if you are extremely dizzy or have trouble breathing, call 911.

If bitten on an extremity, try to avoid moving it so the circulation of the venom might be slowed.

Take a picture of the snake that bit you or try to remember its markings. At Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, there are pictures of the most common snakes. Some people have brought the whole snake to the hospital after killing it.


Don’t try to suck out the venom like you’ve seen in the movies. It doesn’t work. Likewise, never make a cut where the snake bite is and try to draw out the venom. And don’t use electricity, tourniquets, heat or suction devices.

Published by INFO JONES

"Not sweating the petty things, ...just petting the sweaty things."

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