In a recent study, a significant number of people bitten by the mulga snake (Also known as a King Brown snake) were asleep at the time the bite occurred. Also: its venom gives you diarrhea, so you’ve got that to look forward to if you’re sharing your bed with a mulga. Finding a snake in one’s bed is a rare occurrence, but it can and does happen, even here in the United States. A relative of mine once woke to find a rattlesnake resting on her comforter. Pleasant dreams.
In a new study that examined 27 cases of people bitten by the mulga snake, researchers found that seven of the victims were asleep when they were bitten, between midnight and 5 a.m.
Such bites were not common — most of the people in the study who were bitten had intentionally made contact with a snake. For instance, one victim was bitten while playing with a snake in the garden, and another was bitten while feeding a pet snake.
But 10 people who were bitten had encountered a mulga snake unintentionally, and the fact that seven of these victims were bitten while sleeping “is noteworthy since it represents 70 percent of identified cases involving bites without intentional contact, and suggests that bites sustained during sleep may be more common than previously reported,” the researchers wrote in their report.
The mulga snake is the largest terrestrial venomous snake in Australia. The snake’s bites can be fatal; however, the most recent case of a fatal mulga snakebite was reported more than 40 years ago, the researchers wrote.
The majority of the bites in the study occurred between December and March, when the weather in Australia is warmer, the researchers found. Eighty percent of the victims were male.
Snakes don’t always inject their venom when they bite, but in the study, 21 patients had symptoms of envenomation, which means they were injected with venom. Bite victims in the study showed bleeding, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.