This post has been corrected. See note below.
SEATTLE -- A weekend shopping trip to Wal-Mart is usually guaranteed to produce an intriguing cast of characters, but a rattlesnake? Really? Ask Mica Craig, a Clarkston, Wash., man who was apparently bitten by a rattlesnake when he reached down to check the price on a bag of garden mulch.
“My hand feels like it’s in a burning fire right now,” Craig, 47, told the Lewiston Tribune following the incident Saturday at the Clarkston store’s outdoor garden section, which lies across the street from a vacant lot where snakes have been known to loiter.
Craig said he had thought a stick was blocking the price of the mulch he was checking out, so he reached down to move it out of the way -- only to find a snake a foot to a foot-and-a-half long clinging to his hand, fangs ready for business.
“It bit me, and I started screaming,” said Craig, who managed to shake the creature loose. “I did a tap dance on it and got it killed,” he said.
A fellow customer quickly drove Craig to a nearby urgent care center, where he was referred to a hospital. The hospital, however, initially sent him home after an emergency room physician concluded the snake had not injected any venom, according to the Tribune.
But his hand had swollen to “the size of a cantaloupe” by the time he got home, so Craig returned to the hospital, where treatment required six vials of antivenin and surgery. He was released from the hospital on Monday.
Craig told television station KXLY in nearby Lewiston, Idaho, that he's now looking for a lawyer. "I want to find out what's wrong with my hand and the extent of everything before I do any talking to anybody, and see if I have to get legal advice or what," he told the station from the hospital on Monday.
Wal-Mart officials said they are investigating to determine how the incident could have occurred.
“Obviously we’re concerned that this could have happened. We’ve been working directly with Mr. Craig and we are looking into it to find out exactly what may have occurred,” company spokeswoman Kayla Whaling told the Los Angeles Times.
She said the store is reviewing surveillance video for clues. Company employees immediately contacted paramedics to try to get speedy care for Craig after the incident, Whaling said.
“It does appear that this is an isolated incident and we are working with a third party pest management team who is doing a sweep of our property to ensure there’s no any additional activity,” she said.
[For the record, 12:10 p.m. May 16: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Craig as Clark on four occasions.]