Scottish Worker Survives Venomous Snake Bite That Melted Off His Skin

Warren Soulsby, a 25-year-old highway maintenance worker from Scotland, experienced a shocking encounter with a venomous snake while clearing overgrown shrubbery from street signs in Coldingham, Scottish Borders. The incident, which occurred in February last year, began when Soulsby noticed a beer bottle on the ground and decided to pick it up to prevent damage to his weed-whacker.

The unsuspecting Scotsman was about to discard the bottle when he felt a sharp pain in his left hand. Initially, he thought he had pricked himself on a thorn bush. However, he soon began to feel dizzy and nauseous. Upon inspecting his hand, he discovered two puncture wounds with blood dripping from them.

Despite the clear signs of a snake bite, Soulsby didn’t immediately connect the dots. He said, “When I saw two puncture marks dripping with blood, I didn’t automatically think ‘snake’ because why would I? We’re in Scotland.” It was only later that he discovered he had been bitten by an adder, the UK’s only venomous snake. The bite of an adder can cause severe pain and inflammation.

Soulsby believes that he disturbed the snake, which was likely basking in the warmth of the sun inside the bottle. He speculated that the snake jumped out and bit his finger when he picked up the bottle. He described the bite as a quick nip before the snake slithered away into the bushes.

A colleague noticed Soulsby’s deteriorating condition and drove him to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. They had to stop twice on the way as Soulsby was repeatedly sick. At the hospital, a blood test revealed that his blood was unusually thick due to the snake’s venom. Soulsby was shocked when the doctors informed him that he had been bitten by a snake.

Following the diagnosis, Soulsby was given painkillers and diazepam to calm his nerves. He was also hooked up to an IV. To counteract the venom, doctors arranged for European adder antivenom to be transported from Manchester. This treatment involves injecting the patient with venom extracted from the same species of snake, acting as a sort of vaccine against the venom.

After spending three days in the hospital, Soulsby was discharged and took an additional day off work to recover. Despite his harrowing experience, he doesn’t hold a grudge against the snake. He said, “I suppose I deserved it. I woke one up during hibernation and it was really cranky — we’ve all been there.”