A pint of Guinness and a shot of antivenom go out to a 22-year-old Dublin man doomed to carry the scars of the “first recorded venomous snakebite in Ireland”.
It's one of the Emerald Isle's most popular legends: Saint Patrick employs the power of his faith to cleanse Ireland of its snakes. Venomous or harmless, if they didn't have legs they were driven into the sea, never to return. Never... like never in a million years never. Or not.
Well, a thousand years (and a few hundred more) have passed since the fifth-century missionary banished the snakes, thereby booking his ticket to becoming patron saint of Ireland. Since then (or since the end of the last Ice Age, according to scientists) nary a fork-tongued reptile has set foot- er, set belly upon the fair shores of Eire. Credit ol' St Pat for that if you like but blame pet shop owners for screwing it all up. Indeed, it was a pet snake who made headlines of late by making holes – two of them – in his human owner.
This was kind of a huge deal because the snake was a Puff Adder (above): an aggressive, venomous viper native to northwestern Africa that's responsible for more fatalities than any other snake on the continent. The victim hauled himself off to nearby Connolly Hospital where physicians were initially flustered... modern Ireland being snakeless and all.
Quick-thinking doctors contacted the National Reptile Zoo, who promptly sent over a dose of antivenom. "Puff adder venom is pretty nasty," stated James Hennessy, director the National Reptile Zoo, who noted that this is "the first recorded venomous snakebite in Ireland". At least the snake waited until after St. Patrick's Day to do the deed. (via The Irish Post, images via William Murphy 1, 2, 4, and UK-DFID)