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He shot the rattlesnake's head off. An hour later, it tried to strike him, video shows

Video in slow motion shows headless rattlesnake lunging toward man to bite him

An Alabama man shot a snake in the head, but it still tried to bite him.
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An Alabama man shot a snake in the head, but it still tried to bite him.

Billy Forbus wanted to get a better picture of the rattlesnake that he had shot, but the headless snake struck back as he tried to move it with his blue grabbers.

The Alabama man had shot the large, venomous snake after he had nearly stepped on it while plowing his garden, according to a June 2 Facebook post on his wife, Kerry Forbus', account.

After he finished working in the garden, he used the grabbers to move the now-headless snake to the bed of his truck. He said the snake didn't move around as he took it to the truck.

"I moved it to the truck bed so that I could take it to show my dad and brother what I had run up on in my garden," he wrote on Facebook. "I wanted to show them because they both have gardens and I wanted to let them know to be careful."

But as Forbus tried to stretch the snake out so he could get a better photo of it, the snake tried to strike him — even without a head.

That was an hour after he had shot the snake.

"An hour after he shot the snakes head off, it still knew where he was and would strike at him!!!!!" Kerry Forbus posted on Facebook.

He then had a family member take video as he tried to grab the snake. The videos posted to Facebook show the headless snake's body lunge toward Forbus .

Tyler Harris, animal care coordinator of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, quoted a wild reptile veterinarian to WSFA.

"The spinal cord can function, to a degree, autonomously from the brain," Harris said, quoting veterinarian Adam Cooner. "That explains why the rattlesnake in the video is still writhing and moving despite the head being in less-than-ideal condition.

" ....The spinal nerves sense the direction the prodding is coming from, but despite how it appears the body doesn't 'know' it's striking a man."

Cooner told WSFA that a snake's brain can function hours after it is severed.

"The snake is probably conscious and in agony," he said.

Forbus wrote that he did not take the video because he liked to torture the snake.

"We took the video to let people know to be careful even after you have shot and killed a snake," he said on Facebook. " ... This whole thing was a preventative measure."

Also this month, a Texas man was nearly killed when a rattlesnake head bit him, CNN reported. The snake's head was not attached to its body.

Sean Bush, a snake expert at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, told NBC in 2014 that it's common for headless snakes to still try to bite.

"It's a last-ditch effort to survive, so it’s very common," she said. "They get real snappy in the throes of death."

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