A south Florida biologist is recovering after being bitten by a rattlesnake as he cleaned its cage.
Joe Wasilewski spent eight days in a Homestead hospital's intensive care unit after the Nov. 20 bite from a 4-foot-long Eastern diamondback rattlesnake.
"I think the more dangerous the animal is the better I like it," he said.
Wasilewski tells The Miami Herald that he's been bitten by cobras, cottonmouths and other rattlesnakes, but this was the worst bite yet. The biologist was in Homestead Hospital’s intensive care unit for eight days where he received 48 vials of antivenin.
“I’ve had 15-16 vials and walked out of the hospital the next day," he told the Herald. "But I’ve never had a bite as bad as this.”
He says it's been a tough recovery and he's "just starting to feel normal now."
Wasilewski's son Nick also is a trained snake handler and was with him when he was bitten. Nick Wasilewski called 911, and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Venom One unit took his father to the hospital.
"I hurried up to put a rattlesnake in its cage, and I just kinda lifted it up and it bit me on my forearm, and it bit me with both fangs, and I knew instantly that the bite was a bad bite," he said.
The biologist says he'll be donating the snake that bit him to a venom research lab in Kissimmee.
"I'm really not only lucky, but fascinated that there is absolutely no physical damage. Rattlesnakes are known to cause massive tissue damage," he said.
He said the incident was his fault.
"It was definitely my fault. It wasn't the snake's faulth. I thought instead of doing two steps, I'm going to do one step, just get this thing back in the cage," he said.
He added that will continue to work with snakes but in the future he will be more careful.
"You know they say that old saying about a cat having nine lives, and I'm getting to the end of those. I'm on number 8 or 9 right now, so I need to change my ways," he said.