Man bitten by snake picked up adder for holiday snap

A HILLWALKER who nearly died after he was bitten by an adder revealed that he picked up two of the snakes so his brother could take a photo of them with a mobile phone.

Robert McGuire was bitten last Saturday while holidaying on the Isle of Arran.

The 44-year-old suffered a severe allergic reaction to the bites and had to be taken to hospital by air ambulance from a remote area of Goat Fell. He spent six days receiving treatment.

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Speaking for the first time since he was released from hospital, Mr McGuire described the moment he was bitten.

"I was out for a walk with my brother Steve and his kids. We were going off to have a picnic at a local beauty spot.

"The next minute, one of the kids ran up and said there was a snake in the grass. I just thought it was a grass snake.

"I just bent down to pick it up so my brother could take a photo with his mobile phone. Suddenly a massive black snake just appeared, so I picked that up too. It was then that the second one just sank his fangs right into my hand and then the other one did the same to my other hand."

Mr McGuire told The Scotsman that he had not been particularly concerned about picking up the reptiles as he did not believe there were venomous snakes in Scotland.

Throwing the adders away, the combined effect of their venom began to take effect almost immediately as Mr McGuire's body started to go into anaphylactic shock, a violent allergic reaction which can result in death.

"There was blood just gushing out. I screamed and my brother ran off to get help," he said. "Everyone else was screaming and panicking too.

"Within a few minutes my face started to tingle and tongue started to swell up. Twenty minutes later, I couldn't talk right and couldn't breathe, then my face started to blow up and my hands started swelling. I realised I'd been poisoned."

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As the venom coursed through his body, Mr McGuire described how it 'went into revolt', and he began to vomit repeatedly and sweat copiously: "I was sick everywhere, everything in my body just left me. It was terrible.

"My legs went, I couldn't walk, they were just like rubber. I was terrified, I thought that was it, I'd never see my family again."

Adders are Britain's only venomous snakes, but severe reactions to their bites are rare. Fewer than ten people are thought to have died from an adder bite in the UK during the past 50 years.

Mr McGuire said that his final recollections before passing out were of being injected repeatedly with hypodermic needles by the paramedics.

It was the following day before he regained consciousness in hospital, where he discovered that his whole body and head were swollen almost beyond recognition.

"I woke up in hospital, and I kept biting my tongue because it was that big. My lips looked like Mick Jagger's, they were so swollen.

"I felt dead weak and all bloated. I was like Hulk Hogan, my arms were really blown up.

"I couldn't talk and I kept wanting to touch my face because it was all swollen. I couldn't use my hands, they were useless."

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"The doctor said I was lucky to be alive. He had told my family while I was being treated that they should expect the worst."

Horrified by his own appearance, Mr McGuire refused to let his family see him while he was in hospital.

He is now back at his home in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, where he lives with his wife Maureen, 37, and his six children: Kerry, 19, Chris, 17, Nicole, 11, Stephanie, ten, Robert, five, and two-year-old Greg.