S.I. Zoo, Hospital team up to protect residents from poisonous snakes

A slithering snake is enough to make some squirm -- and for good reason.

"A lot of these snakes have a bite that can kill you in 15 to 20 minutes," said Sarrah Kaye, the General Curator and Veterinarian at the Staten Island Zoo.

This is a Timber Rattlesnake.

A bite from him would be deadly unless you’re treated with anti-venom.

Most hospitals only stock anti-venom for poisonous snakes found in North America.

But there's new protocol in place at Staten Island University Hospital to treat bites from snakes found around the world.

S.I.U.H. is working with the Staten Island Zoo to create anti-venom from the exotic snakes in their collection.

It and Jacobi Medical Center are the only two hospitals in the City equipped with this treatment.

"There are a lot of reptile enthusiasts out there and unfortunately accidents happen. And that's really why we created this partnership -- to have be able to have access to anti-venom from really dangerous snakes all throughout the world," said Nima Majlesi, the Director of Medical Toxicology at Staten Island University Hospital.

Venomous snakes aren't native to Staten Island.

You're much more likely to see a milk snake than a rattlesnake in one of the borough's parks.

Experts say the real risk comes when people illegally own them as pets.

"That's a huge problem people bringing exotic reptiles to the U.S. which not only threatens our native species here when they get released but also, just safety," added Kaye.

In March, a Graniteville man's pet viper took a bite out of his arm.

And earlier this week, five young King Cobras were seized at J.F.K. airport.  

"Being bitten even by a baby could be a disaster and lead to paralysis and death relatively quickly," added Majlesi.

That’s why experts say it's probably best to see the serpents behind glass at the zoo.

 

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