In early August, snake collector Matt Wilkinson of Portland grabbed a 20-inch rattler off the highway near Maupin in Central Oregon.
Three weeks later, in a show of daring for an ex-girlfriend, Wilkinson stuck the snake in his mouth. Near death with a tongue swollen to the point it spilled out of his mouth and blocked his throat, he sought emergency-room treatment. Trauma surgeons at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) saved his life.
...."You can assume alcohol was involved," he said. Actually, not just beer. Something he chose to describe as a "mixture of stupid stuff."
Friends were over for a barbecue. A pit was being readied for a backyard bonfire. He himself had downed a six-pack. An ex-girlfriend at the party asked him for a beer. He handed her one, not realizing said snake was also in his hand.
"She said, 'Get that thing out of my face,' " Wilkinson said. "I told her it was a nice snake. Nothing can happen. Watch."
He stuck the snake in his mouth. "It got ahold of my tongue," he said.
In pain and finding it hard to breathe, he quickly arranged to be driven to the hospital by his ex-girlfriend. "She was the only one sober," Wilkinson said.