A dry bite from a black mamba happened to photographer Mark Laita while he was working on a book about snakes.
He took many precautions when photographing venomous snakes, but the owner of the mamba made a mistake after Laita finished taking the photos that he wanted.
The snake, which had been calm and easily handled, had started moving around Laita’s feet after moving off of the background that Laita had set up for the photos. This was not aggressive or threatening, the snake was just doing whatever the snake equivalent is to stretch your legs.
The handler attempted to move the mamba with a snake hook but accidentally snagged an electrical cable from Laita’s gear. This startled the snake, which bit Laita on the leg, puncturing an artery with both fangs.
Laita had no ill effects from venom, though he bled much more than usual since the fangs had hit an artery.
While the snake was on the floor, Laita switched to a point-and-shoot camera. The day after the bite, Laita reviewed the photos from his point and shoot and found something he wasn’t expecting – He had photographed the moment that the snake struck:
Photo credit: Mark Laita
This was a high-luck outcome to a low-luck event – Dry bites from black mambas are rare, and mambas are capable of making repeated envenoming bites in a single attack. There is more to the story: Laita compounded the risk by what he chose to do after the bite but got away with it