Special In Aisle 13: Pygmy Rattlesnakes

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 8th, 2008

Here’s what they are reading about in a Tasmanian paper early Tuesday morning…

Man bitten by Walmart rattlesnake

From correspondents in Miami [Florida, USA]
July 08, 2008 09:33am
A posionous rattlesnake hidden among leafy plants in the garden section of a Walmart store in Florida sprang out and bit a man who was shopping there.

The man was taken to hospital after the 30cm pygmy rattlesnake bit him in the right hand while he was looking at the plants at the store in Pembroke Pines, Florida, about 50km north of Miami.

“This is an isolated incident and we’re taking precautions to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” said Walmart spokeswoman Ashley Hardie.

“To ensure the wellbeing of our customers, we immediately closed the garden centre to enable animal control to do a thorough search of the area. The garden centre was reopened once we were convinced it was safe to do so.”

The Miami Herald newspaper reported that the man received intravenous anti-venom treatment at Miramar Hospital and was expected to make a full recovery.

The pygmy rattlesnake’s poisonous bite could be fatal for an elderly person or small child, medics said.

This all goes to show that finding a poisonous snake in the plants for sale at Wal-Mart isn’t always an urban legend.

And to reinforce that thought, Jonathan Rees over at The Writing on the Wall, clearly knows how to use Google (it’s an inside joke). You can visit Rees for the reference urls and more, for he is to be congratulated for his quick assemblage:

John Page ended up in the emergency room at Wuestoff Hospital after he was attacked by a pygmy rattlesnake last November [2006]. He talked publicly for the first time, Friday, about what happened.

“I pulled my hand out of the shopping cart and, to my surprise, there is a 14-to-18 inch snake hanging off of my finger,” he said.

– “Victim Making Demands Of Wal-Mart After Snake Bite,” WFTV9.com, February 22, 2007.

All she wanted was a flower, but instead a woman said she got a snake bite.

Delaine Jarrell was looking through the plants in the garden center at a Jacksonville Wal-Mart on Wednesday, when a snake sunk its fangs into her arm and didn’t let go without a fight.

– “Snake Bites Woman Walking Through Wal-Mart Garden Center,” WFTV9.com, June 5, 2006.

A man was treated with anti-venin [sic] after he was bit by a pygmy rattlesnake in the garden department of a Central Florida Wal-Mart, according to Local 6 News.

Officials said a man was reaching into a plant Monday at a Wal-Mart in Sanford, Fla., located on U.S. Highway 192 when the snake bit his hand.

– “Pygmy Rattlesnake Bites Man At Wal-Mart,” Local6.com (Orlando), July 25, 2006.

Jonathan Rees adds that “lest you think this only happens in Florida:”

A 44 year old man was bitten by a snake Monday afternoon while shopping at the Wal Mart in Marana.

The Northwest Fire Department says the man was in the garden department at about 3:30 p.m. reaching for a bag of lava rock.

That’s when a 3.5 foot long Western Diamondback Rattlesnake bit him in the forearm.

– “Snake bite at Wal-Mart,” KVOA.com (Tuscon, AZ), March 29, 2007.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

11 Responses to “Special In Aisle 13: Pygmy Rattlesnakes”

  1. maceman444 responds:

    I have been in and out of retail for the past 10 years. I have worked for Target, Shopko (now out of business), Montgomery Ward’s (also out of business), Kmart, and Lowe’s and I can tell you I’ve seen many out of place reptiles and insects. I’ve seen geckos, snakes, tarantulas, and scorpions when I’ve unpacked the plants for the summer season. When you import anything from another country (many of the plants you buy are from Mexico) or another state you will get hitchhiking species of all sorts.

  2. shumway10973 responds:

    okay, question (hand raised…) where does pygmy rattlesnakes originate from? I’ve only read a couple of the accounts above (I think here), but only thought they were baby rattlers. Definitely not the size of snake I hit last night. I drive a Honda Civic (mid nineties) and it reached from front passenger wheel to back driver’s wheel. I know about the importing of plants too. I work for a grocery store. Every once in awhile shipments of bananas (let’s say) either didn’t get fumigated or something and out pops who knows what. Remember Arachnophobia (the movie)? Those were banana tarantulas. Oh, and they do hiss (nervous giggle). Anyway, is the problem originating from the supplier of the plants or is there a small infestation back at Walmart’s central warehouse?

  3. Rappy responds:

    Shumway: Pygmy rattlesnakes, referred to in some places (like where I come from) as “ground rattlers”, are found in various parts of the Southeast USA, including, yes, Florida. A pygmy rattlesnake, most likely a native dusky, could have slithered right in from the widlerness if the area didn’t have any precautions.

  4. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Gee… first it was spiders, then scorpions, NOW snakes?

    What’s next, Bears??

  5. Rogutaan responds:

    Few months back there was a scorpion mixed with the water melons, now this. All the more reason to avoid Wal-Mart.

  6. Munnin responds:

    Considering that the species of venomous snakes encountered in the FL and TX Wal Mart garden centers differ, but seem to occur locally in each case, perhaps these are just native individuals looking for water and cover.

  7. cryptidsrus responds:

    Whether these are native individuals or not, this is all really maddening. I’ll be extra cautious at WallyWorld next time.

    To Red_Pill_Junkie:

    I think the answer to the question is:

    Black Widow Spiders. Small enough to not be detected.

  8. Saint Vitus responds:

    Pygmy rattlers are native to Florida. These snakes probably lived in the area before it was bulldozed so a Wal Mart could be built there, so they are not “out of place animals” at all.

  9. Andrew Minnesota responds:

    Red_Pill_Junkie I can already see it “woman opens armoire at Wal-Mart and rouses sleeping bear” :p

  10. maceman444 responds:

    Now I’m all for not shopping at Wal-Mart (I hate that corporation more than the rest, which is saying something) but you can’t fault the store’s for these rare occurrences. I know the business so let me explain how it works. Most of the flowers, fruit’s, or vegetables are picked in Mexico or in the US by illegal immigrants(that’s not racist, that’s fact and for everyone who wants to get rid of all the illegal immigrants, you will have no food because these people do extremely hard work for $2-$3 an hour. If an American did that job they would be asking for $20 an hour, that’s how hard this job is) these places obviously do not have the best precautions. It is then repotted or put in a crate or box(the boxes for plants are usually kept together by 2 plastic straps, no tape to seal it) then put with a bulk of other’s of the same type. It is then shipped to a distribution center and loaded again to go to another distribution center, until it is finally shipped to the store. With all the different places these unsealed box’s go you can’t expect things like this not to happen. If you think OSHA will save you, you need to realize OSHA is a joke. They show up when a new store opens and after that they never show up again unless a customer contacts them about something unsanitary(and in most cases the customer’s complaint is ignored by OSHA). Almost every grocery or retail store you go to has mice(and yes they urinate on everything and the store’s usually still sell these items) and almost every restaurant you go to has rats and cockroaches. Businesses are very unsanitary and it would cost them a fortune to keep it sanitary, but hey you are all still healthy and alive. Remember since the small businesses are dead, in a corporation the store manager is held responsible and if that store manager fails in anything he/she is just replaced with a new one, so there is no accountability from the corporation.

    Also, Shumway I was in the Grocery business for 3 years and although I never did produce I heard many of the same stories of Bananna Spiders as you mentioned.

  11. korollocke responds:

    Gives new meaning to urban jungle doesn’t it. maybe some cryptids will arrive with the christmas stock…. “uh dave we need management here, we have a bigfoot trashing the cereal isle.”

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