Man Hospitalized After Case of Mistaken Snake Identity

Python collector bought snake from neighbor

WASHINGTON -- A southeast Washington man who owns several pythons was hospitalized after being bitten by his latest pet, which turned out to be a copperhead.

Jason Dale said he bought the snake for $100 from a neighbor under the belief that it was a python. When he tried to pick it up, it bit him.

"I set the snake down and the snake got caught up in a fence, so I go to pick it up," Dale said. "Snake turned around and bit me on my hand."

Dale thought nothing of the bite at first because he thought it was a python, not a venomous snake.

"About 30 minutes went past and my whole hand was swollen, so that's when I said, 'I need to go to the hospital,'" said Dale, 31.

Dale was treated at Howard University Hospital, otherwise it could have been fatal.

"At this hour, as we speak, it's not immediately life-threatening, but the whole purpose of admitting him and starting the anti-venom is to prevent it from becoming life-threatening, because after all, this was a poisonous bite," Howard Emergency Medicine Department Chair Dr. Geoffrey Mountvarner said.


Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information

Alexandria votes to end single-family-only zoning

List: Road closures for Thursday's National Christmas Tree Lighting

Dale's relieved he didn't put the snake around his neck, the way he wears his pythons.

The snake was taken to the D.C. Animal Care and Control Facility, which will try to place the copperhead with a reptile rescue group.

Contact Us