Man Nearly Died When Severed Snake Head Bit Him
rating: +1+x

Summary

June 8, 2018: A man encountered a rattlesnake, and quickly cut off its head with a shovel to defend himself. He then tried to pick up the severed head. Turns out snake heads can remain capable of biting for several hours after decapitation. It's an instinctual motor reflex, kind of like how a headless chicken can run around. And instead of injecting its usual dose of venom, a dead snake will instead inject a mega-dose, basically using up its entire supply of venom in one bite.

A rapid medical response was able to save his life, but he ended up in coma for 5 days and suffering kidney failure from the poisoning.

Source

Game and Story Use

  • A Giant Snake or other snake-based monster, such as a hydra, medusa, chimera, winged serpent, dragon, or the world serpent joermungandr could exhibit this same behavior, giving them one last attack the round after they are killed by the heroes, especially if slain by a vorpal sword.
    • The legendary hydra, after all, had one immortal head that stayed alive … and angry … after being cut off and had to be buried under a big rock.
    • Any Saving Throw versus poison from this death-bite would be at a significant penalty because of the venomous mega-dose.
  • An NPC assassin could leave the severed heads of venomous serpents under the bed sheets, or in the cushions of a throne, as a form of booby trap. It's small and concealable. It's also little more controllable than leaving a live animal that might wander off, cause collateral damage, or give away it's position by rattling.
    • The several-hour duration allows such a trap only a limited window of danger. So it could be used for a timed ambush or assassination, to hit a specific target, or to render a place unsafe for a short time. The assassin knows how long he needs to wait before returning to the scene of the crime in order to not have to fear being bitten. So it might even be the sort of thing where severed venomous serpent heads are used like caltrops to discourage pursuit. It's not practical, but it scores bonus points for sinister style.
  • The story suggests a Magic Item : This is my Magic Shovel +1, +3 vs Rattlesnakes.
  • Zombie head, non-human variety?
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