VIDEO: AL man battles headless rattlesnake

VIDEO: AL man battles headless rattlesnake
As the man reached for the snake with a grabber tool, it appeared the snake began to slither away but eventually turns in an apparent attempt to strike at him. (Source: Kerry Forbus)

COOSA CO., AL (WSFA) - A woman posted a video on the WSFA 12 News Facebook page Wednesday that showed a headless snake striking at her husband.

According to Kerry Forbus, her husband, Billy Forbus, was plowing his garden when he saw the snake against a fence. She brought him a shotgun, which he then used to shoot off the snake's head.

He left the snake alone for about an hour and then, using a grabber tool, put the snake in the bed of his truck to take to his brother's house. The snake did not move while he put it in the bed, Kerry Forbus said.

The video was taken once he arrived at his brother's house and shows Forbus attempting to remove the snake from the truck over an hour after he killed it, Kerry Forbus said.

Mrs. Forbus posted it in the comments section of a WSFA post regarding a Texas man who was bitten by a severed snake head.

As Forbus reached for the snake with the grabber tool, it appeared the snake began to slither away but eventually turns in an apparent attempt to strike at him.

Kerry Forbus said her husband left the snake in the bed for several more hours before trying to move it again at which time it was stiff and not moving.

WSFA 12 News contacted Tyler Harris, the animal care coordinator of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, to explain the occurrence. She quoted Adam Cooner, a veterinarian at the Alabama Medical Center in Anniston who specializes in wild reptiles and amphibians.

"In general, reptiles rely more on spinal reflex arcs than they do brain stimulation. Throughout the spinal cord, there are sites which control movement, so the spinal cord can function, to a degree, autonomously from the brain. That explains why the rattlesnake in the video is still writhing and moving despite the head being in less-than-ideal condition.

The strike is likely a reflexive response to continued pestering by the man with the tongs (Billy Forbus). The spinal nerves sense the direction the prodding is coming from, but despite how it appears the body doesn't 'know' it's striking a man."

In response to the WSFA 12 News post regarding the severed snake head, Cooner explained that reptiles can survive with extremely low blood pressure and levels of oxygen.

"The brain can continue to function (after being severed) for hours in some cases," Harris said Cooner explained. "Saying that those bites are reflexive is probably inaccurate: the snake is probably conscious and in agony."

Harris reminded everyone that snakes act defensively, not aggressively, toward humans, so keeping space between oneself and snakes is the safest thing to do.

"The closer you get to a snake, the greater your chances are of being bitten," she said. "If you stay away, you're safe. It's that simple."

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