Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

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Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby Bjorn » Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:21 pm

If you read the heading and your thinking what is this guy on about then just hear me out.

On Sunday we were going to clean the glass of the one Rock Monitor cages. So I wanted to get the little guy (snout to vent around 40cm) out first but he has a heavy feeding response. As I opened the glass he came flying which is always fun and as usual I had to neck and tail him. I then proceeded to place him in a large container but as soon as I let go to remove my hands he was already attached to my right thumb. Yes they can be that fast!

He clamped down hard as can be expected and started thrashing about so I restrained him quickly. I was then in a bit of a panic as the pain was pretty sharp and just as it felt bearable he would chew it a little. I had two of the park volunteers jump in to help using the back of a butter knife as a breaker and the other lifting the front of the snout. In all I think it was under 3 min.

I thought nothing much of it and carried on with the day. Then around 10-15 min I felt a cool sweat come over me, again I didn't think to much of it being a hot day with aircon running. I was listening to a friend who just arrived when I started feeling kind of faint as if I was going to pass out or vomit. It got really intense so I was given 2 allergex and I went to lay down. There was instant relief from the nausea while I was laying down. Then I started feeling a lump in my throat as all the muscles just under my tongue went very stiff so swallowing was not comfortable. The muscle stiffness proceeded all around my neck into my back and arms. I had intense pins and needles in both arms which passed fairly quickly. Even the muscles used to move my eyes hurt. Now at this time my friend is calling a few people to find out about these symptoms. After he explained the situation all I could hear him say on the phone is OH HECTIC x3 ! NO ways. :shock:

He was told to give me another allergex and get some other antihistamine but luck would have it you need a prescription. He said if I don't feel any better I may have to go to hospital to be observed. Apparently some people have such severe pain and go as stiff as a board. Throughout their body that is.

I felt very weak and getting up from the floor I felt like I ran a marathon the previous day. After around 2hrs it was closing time so I continued to help guests and close up. I was fine to drive and function at this stage. The only effects that lasted the rest of the evening was the muscle stiffness throughout the body but mainly upper body. Even muscles around my scalp and eyes were sensitive.

Now I have always respected a Rock Monitor but I can't help but respect them even more now. I have been bitten by them a few times and the only other time I had issues was with a hatching that got me on the index finger. In this case I had the lump in the throat and neck stiffness. I haven't experienced any effects by a Nile monitor bite but I have had one good chomp and some nibbles from them.

Over the whole ordeal the scary part was going pale and almost passing out. The rest of the ordeal is very much like a body wrecking flu with the sore throat. The next day I was fine besides my thumb which felt like it was hit with a spiked hammer.

Hope you guys found this an interesting read.
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Re: Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby Ruan Stander » Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:08 pm

Fascinating, thanks for sharing.
I have also taken bites from them but had no symptoms, I think the length of time it hangs on and how far into their mouth the bitten area is plays a role.

The thing that really makes me wonder is how potent are some of these venoms? I mean at least one is lethal in the case of Komodo dragons, though it was long thought to be bacterial issues, it seems that it doesn't really sink in- it's actually a highly venomous reptile.
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Re: Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby Westley Price » Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:24 am

Interesting read. I would have thought if the effects were that severe that it would have been well known that Monitors are venomous even yeas ago.

Was there much swelling or only the other symptoms described?

It would be interesting to see if you could take a little pipet and "milk" some venom off one of the rear teeth.

Thanx for sharing
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Re: Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby Bjorn » Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:11 am

I personally don't think that the venom of Rock Monitors is used for hunting but they are related to the Komodo Dragon. I do think it makes a massive difference to how you are bitten and duration. Then it may also affect certain people and not others. Venom is very complex and when you hear of guys having cytotoxic effects from a Cape Cobra you must wonder.

I had no swelling or pain from venom around my thumb. Just the trauma pain from the teeth and pressure really.

I know someone that bought a baby Rockie from me also had these effects after his bit him on the ear.

Maybe you could get venom if you scented a piece of rubber as food and let them really have at it. I just have no equipment or knowledge on how to test for it. All I know is I have 2 perfectly food crazy Rock Monitors that would go mental on that test. I have been chased around the pit one or twice as they have no fear of people and only want to eat everything. haha
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Re: Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby Fooble » Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:22 am

That's really interesting! Thanks for sharing Bjorn I've always been cautious around Varanus simply because the bites HURT even from the mechanical damage.
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Re: Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby Bjorn » Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:47 am

Yes I rather take on most python bites before a monitor. They can be potentially mutilating.
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Re: Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby ljd » Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:06 am

Scientists have been studying there venom for a good few years now as well as many other species. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn8 ... MiJj9KUfCs
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Re: Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby Ruan Stander » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:49 am

Very interesting read, thanks amigo.

I've known that Varanus has been known to be venomous for many years now, but iguanas and agamids, now that surprised me.
Interesting that Komodo venom kills water buffalo but has a lessened effect on humans.
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Re: Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby Bushviper » Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:16 pm

I still wonder why you never phoned me. Oh well.

Numerous people have been bitten by Varanus locally and had effects. Usually it is people who try to gently remove the animals (especially feeding type bites) and I believe that that is when they get more venom in the wound as the delivery system is not developed. The glands get "massaged" while you fiddle around and that is where the problems arise.

Your symptoms are pretty standard and not as severe as what I have seen from local Varanus bites. Complete rigidity of the entire body, diarrhea and muscle spasms are also recorded which are pretty frightening.

Dont underestimate the Varanus. Thanks for sharing this and I hope other people also learn to respect them. To date we have not had an allergic reaction to the venom but even that is not beyond the realm of possibility.
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Re: Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis) envenomation

Postby Bjorn » Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:22 pm

Arno, Lourance did try and get hold of you but it went to voice mail.

As you say it just takes an allergic reaction and then there is trouble. When I felt like I might pass out it was fairly worrying.
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