According to Hollywood, snake bites are always a threat, especially if you’re walking on a dessert path somewhere in the American Southwest. If you’re bitten (a wildcard possibility on any hike), you’ll experience horrible pain, cold sweats, confusion and sometimes strange visions, which will continue until someone brave cuts your wound and sucks the venom out with their mouth. If no one in your group does this, you die very quickly and in great pain.
The reality of snake bites is somewhat less deadly, but far more terrifying.
For starters, a snake bite doesn’t guarantee death. A variety of factors impact deadliness including the type of snake, where it bites, the health of the victim and whether infection sets in, but in the end only about one in 500 die. That said, the damage can be horrifying: Swelling, discoloration, vomiting, diarrhoea, fainting and cold, clammy perspiration. Victims who survive the initial bite of very poisonous snakes like vipers may experience long term damage such as tachycardia, severe internal bleeding, altered senses, respiratory failure and kidney failure.
If hemorrhaging, which may occur everywhere, hits the pituitary gland, it may cause the bizarre effect of sending the victim backwards through puberty, causing loss of sex drive, infertility, loss of body hair, especially pubic hair. Men’s facial hair falls out and their muscles diminish. Women lose curves.
And if that’s not crazy enough—which it is!—check out this video of what happens to human blood when mixed with one drop of viper venom. Just one drop. It will terrify you for life.