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Man bit by venomous rattlesnake in Michigan

The Massasauga rattlesnake is the only venemous snake in Michigan.  

FLINT TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- A Mid-Michigan man has quite the story to tell after surviving a bite by a rattlesnake.


Douglas Hemgesberg was getting ready to build and bonfire and roast marshmallows with his young daughters. All that changed when he encountered one of the rarest snakes in Michigan, a massasauga the state's only venomous rattlesnake.

"I was putting some logs on a fire and I want to go get a new log," says Hemgesberg. "As I picked it up and went to turn toward the fire pit I stepped down and I started hearing rattling."

The snake bit Hemgesberg on the ankle. Luckily his 10-year-old daughter knew what to do.

"She’s a little angel," says Hemgesberg. "She booked it to the house and called 911 and they got out here pretty quick."

Since rattlesnake bites are a rarity in Michigan, antivenom had to be flown in.

In spite of everything he went through, Hemgesberg did not want the snake harmed.

"I didn’t want them to kill it," says Hemgesberg. "I just wanted it to go away."

Massasauga usually are found near wetlands and upland woods here in the lower peninsula. They are listed as “species of special concern” by Michigan DNR and protected by state law.

Now, Hemgesberg's hoping to make sure others are aware of these rare yet deadly reptiles.

"I want kids to be aware when they’re out playing and you’re picking up logs and rolling them over to find rolly pollys there could be one of those over there."

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