Nature photographer Mark Laita will have an exhibition in Germany this February and will be releasing his next book on a project he calls Serpentine later this year. Laita knew the dangers of photographing poisonous snakes in 2010 and 2011 but didn’t even notice when he became a victim of a snake bite himself — and he captured it on film.
Laita is lucky to be alive as he was bitten by a black mamba, which is 100 percent fatal. New Scientist reports that Laita received a dry bite where no venom was injected. A doctor at the University of California, San Diego, states in this first aid guide to black mamba bites that dry bites are rare. According to New Scientist, Laita said it happened so fast that he didn’t even see the snake on his leg until he looked at his photographs the next day.
According to National Geographic, the black mamba is the longest poisonous snake in Africa and has a reputation as the world’s deadliest snake. National Geographic reports that the snake usually kills its prey within 20 minutes, and New Scientist points out that in 2006 it even took down an elephant.
New Scientist reports that Laita photographs the snakes in zoos, serpentariums, anti-venom labs and private collections, and that he thinks it’s worth the risk.
This article has been updated since its original posting to correct a typo in the photo caption of Laita being bitten by the black mamba.