VIERA, Fla. -- A Brevard County man may never use his pinky finger again, all because of a trip to his neighborhood Wal-Mart. John Page says he was attacked in the store's garden section. The snake was caught after the attack at the Wal-Mart on Wickham Road in Viera. Now, the victim is demanding that Wal-Mart acknowledge that poisonous snake bites occur more frequently than they have in the past and take steps to make sure someone shopping for plants doesn't end up in the emergency room.
"I had one fang mark here and one fang mark here," Page said, pointing to his pinky finger.
Page said he is losing more and more movement in his little finger. It was that finger a pygmy rattlesnake latched onto after he reached into an azalea plant to put it in his basket in the garden center at the Viera Wal-Mart.
"I could feel the pain in there. I could feel the poison," he said.
Page fell down, injured his back and went to the emergency room at Wuesthoff Hospital. An employee caught the snake and, after getting a dose of anti-venom, Page took pictures of the reptile with his cell phone.
Page then started doing research and found out he wasn't alone. Since 1987, there have been seven other documented cases of rattlesnake bites in Wal-Mart stores. His lawyer says they won't acknowledge the frequency and continue to say they've never had a problem before.
But Page and his attorney want something done.
"We feel like this is a public health issue," said Page's attorney, Scott Baughnan.
Page said, if they don't, someone else may end up with more than a paralyzed finger.
Eyewitness News hasn't heard back from Wal-Mart's corporate office. Page's attorney said there are some reports of cases involving other stores, but have found more snake bites in Wal-Mart.
To be fair: this could happen at any outdoor garden center in America. However, Florida is home to a variety of poisonous snakes: the Eastern Coral Snake, the Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake, the Eastern Diamond Back Rattlesnake, the Southern Copperhead or Water Moccasin, the Cottonmouth, and the Timber or Canebrake Rattlesnake.
In Florida, it's best not to stick your hands in bushes or go in barefeet, especially at night. And now we know to carefully examine potted plants at garden centers.