When Jarrette Arlo Dean got bit by a rattlesnake, he bit back, and took the critter's head clean off. The snake head, severed from its body, bit him twice more before breathing its last.
Dean, 44, who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is recuperating at home after being hospitalized several days. ``They said it was a miracle he's alive,'' his 19-year-old daughter, Tina, said Saturday. Her father was in intensive care three days, she said.
Doctors said Dean was in shock when he got to Rockingham Memorial Hospital ``and almost dead,'' according to his daughter.
His family, which lives in a community called Naked Creek, doesn't know what possessed him to bite off the snake's head in the incident the previous Saturday.
``He said it had bit him first,'' she recalled, so he bit the snake.
She said her father was riding his bicycle when he spotted the rattler, more than 3 feet long, and got off to catch it. ``He's not afraid of snakes,'' she said.
Holding the snake in one hand, he continued his trip, but the snake bit him on the thumb and fingers, so he headed for a friend's house.
When he got there, angry at being snake-bit, he retaliated in kind. But when he went to take the head out of his mouth, it bit him on the tongue and lip.
In the house, his mouth began to swell, so a newphew drove him to the Elkton Emergency Squad, which took him by ambulance to the hospital.
He was released Wednesday. ``He's doing pretty good right now,'' his daughter said, but doctors warned the treatment with anti-venom still will make him ``deathly sick.''
Her father could not speak for several days after the incident, but wrote on a piece of paper in the hospital that he intended to make a belt from the snake's skin.
Unaware of his uncle's wishes, the nephew had thrown away the snake. He kept the rattle and the head.