A couple months ago, okay definitely more than a couple months, Bug called me into his little work room, where he keeps all his reptiles. I didn’t go in, I was probably busy, um, busy doing nothing. Snug had gone to bed, it was late, I was relaxing.
But he kept calling. So finally I sighed and went to have a look.
I looked, I saw and then I laughed. Because that is what you do when you have snakes or know people who have snakes, who find themselves in interesting positions. This one wasn’t too bad. It was just funny because it lasted for so long. Bug had himself a feed bite.
That’s when the snake chomps on and doesn’t let go. He thinks he can handle this and it is only a matter of waiting. You can’t just pull your finger out. This particular snake is what we call a Rhino Rat Snake, Rhynchophis boulengeri. Snug likes these snakes in particular due to their horn. She mainly likes them because we call them the unicorns of snakes.
Anyway, you can’t just pull your finger out of one of these bites, due to the teeth. They are curved in. As shown in this picture of the top maxillary. The bottom is just like this.
This produces a waiting challenge. Just waiting for the snake to realize that you are, in fact, not bite size and not something he will be able to eat. This could take anywhere from a couple of minutes to 15 minutes or more. Bug was stuck like this for a good 5-6 minutes.
What’s really crazy is, while the snake is biting it is also, salivating? It is a non-venomous, but this is mucusy. So that once the snake is off your finger or limb or arm or any where else, you skin is left looking wet and white and gross. Ew. This bite will genuinely do nothing, except for annoy, but that doesn’t mean that all non-venomous bites mean nothing. Some of the snakes saliva do have qualities to prevent your blood from coagulating in that area for a little bit. Meaning after they are done gumming you and realize they should move on, you get to bleed for a bit.
Oh and you do bleed, depending on the size of the snakes mouth and their teeth, see teeth picture above, you will bleed a bit. Sometimes it takes a little while. Not with these guys though, these guys have little teeth and they are not constrictors.
But this one time…
Bug, my husband, snake wrangler and all time adventurer turned bump on a log once having children, had quite the exciting, bleeding feed bite once. He was in college and had an olive python, about 12 or 13 feet big. She was a nice olive python, they can be mean, but that morning was a little hungry. Bug went to check her out and she gave his arm a funny sort of look. In five seconds she had a good feed bite on his forearm and had lovingly wrapped herself around his upper arm to go in for the kill. Only she didn’t realize, Bug was a little to big to eat, but she kept trying and squeezing. Bug in the meantime, was saying some choice words and went to grab his, not so fond of snakes, roommate to help him unwind the python. His roommate was less than thrilled but eventually the snake was unwound and she gave up and let go. Thankfully easily, sometimes it is not so easy to get the python to let go, but again she was a sweet snake, well tempered. Now back to the teeth. Bug has a completely white forearm and a nice red upper arm and the snake was off, there were a lot of nice big teeth marks. Bug got a chance to check out the bite wound for about 4 seconds before blood was everywhere. Literally, everywhere, his arm completely disappeared. We don’t have anything that big right now. Probably for the best. For the time being.
Back to the little headed rhino. Goose was pretty interested in the whole thing too.
Goose did not get a feed bite, in any way. He did not get to bite the snake and the snake did not bite him. However, if the snake did feed bite goose, I doubt he would have been as patient as Bug, though it would have lead to a very interesting blog post. Alas.
Maxillary picture from Duellman 1958.