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Man Bitten by Snake Uses its Skin as a Tourniquet

May 11, 1996

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) _ A man bitten by a poisonous coral snake killed the reptile by biting off its head, then used its skin as a tourniquet _ a move that probably saved his life.

Valentin Grimaldo of Rio Bravo should make a full recovery, said Lisa Killion, a spokeswoman for Edinburg Hospital.

Grimaldo, 40, was walking with his brother, Fidel, along U.S. Highway 281 near Encino Friday when he reached into some grass and was bitten on the hand.

``He grabbed the snake and bit the head off. He skinned it and used the skin as a tourniquet to keep the venom from spreading,″ Killion said.

A passerby drove Grimaldo, his snake tourniquet in place, to the hospital’s emergency room.

Fidel Grimaldo is keeping the snake’s head as a keepsake.

The red, yellow and black coral is one of three varieties of venomous snakes found in the Rio Grande Valley. Coral snakes, slender and averaging about 2 1/2 feet long, are members of the cobra family.