A California man may lose his hand after he tried to take a selfie with a 4-foot-long rattlesnake.
Alex Gomez, 36, saw the snake in a field near his family's ranch in Lake Elsinore, California, and decided to see if the serpent was photogenic.
“I’m shocked that he would have that thing around his neck,” his mother, Deborah, told CBS. “It could’ve bit his neck, and that would have been it. That’s just being a fool.”
The photo op ended exactly as expected, and Alex, a father of three, was taken to a local hospital to treat the bite on his hand.
"His skin is already rotting away," Deborah said, adding that he could lose the appendage, despite being treated with anti-venom.
Alex's nephew, Ronnie, said that the snake gave its distinctive warning before striking.
“It was really thick and had 10 rattles on it, it was rattling,” Ronnie said. “It was pretty mad.”
On the way to the hospital, Alex was intense pain; his hand became swollen, and he felt a tingling sensation throughout his body.
On average, rattlesnake bites cause five deaths per year, which occur between six and 48 hours after the bite, according to Metro. While placement of the bite and the victim's ability to quickly get assistance impact survival, the amount of venom in the bite is a huge factor, as the snake is able to control how much poison it uses, which experts believe is based on how threatened it feels.
California faces a higher risk of rattlesnake bites this year due to the drought and extreme heat, CBS reports.
Meanwhile, Deborah hopes that embarrassing her son will keep him from making similar mistakes in the future.
“I told him the news people had been calling, and he said, ‘Mom, you better not,’ and I said, ‘I’m going to,'" she said. "I’m going to teach him a real good lesson when he gets home. No mercy for him.”