“He’s OK. And yes, it hurt. A lot.” – Green Valley News
Bill Ledger’s recent encounter with a Gila monster has captured significant attention and left many curious about the details of the incident. When Ledger attempted to save the reptile from potential harm, little did he know that it would land him in the hospital. His story has garnered widespread interest, prompting questions about what happened, the sensations he felt, the legality of his actions, and whether he would do it all over again.
“I grabbed a blanket and I went running over… When I got to the median strip a car came by and I let it go. And when that happened, the Gila stuck its head out from under the blanket and bit the first two fingers of my left hand and wouldn’t let go… For about just a moment I was standing there on the sidewalk with a Gila monster hanging from my hand and I said this is beyond belief.” – Bill Ledger
Ledger, a 75-year-old resident of Green Valley, was on his way to the Las Campanas Fitness Center when he noticed a woman photographing a Gila monster in the middle of the road. Concerned for the lizard’s safety, Ledger sprung into action, covering it with a blanket and attempting to move it to safety. However, when a passing car startled the Gila monster, it bit Ledger’s fingers and firmly held on.
“It was just me and the Gila monster.” – Bill Ledger
Undeterred by the sudden turn of events, Ledger remained composed and strategized his next move. He decided to release the lizard onto the ground and contemplated applying pressure to its neck to force it to let go. Much to his surprise, as soon as the Gila monster touched the ground, it instinctively released its grip on Ledger’s hand and disappeared into the bushes, leaving him with bleeding fingers.
“He helps animals all the time… He’s very protective of animals.” – Ruth Kenrick, Ledger’s partner
Ledger’s compassionate act did not come as a surprise to his partner, Ruth Kenrick, who attests to his frequent involvement in animal welfare. However, experts caution that Gila monster bites can be potentially dangerous, with the severity of venomous effects varying depending on factors such as age and overall health.
“While his years didn’t play in his favor, Ledger is built like an athlete and works out regularly. Even so, he didn’t react well as the venom made its way through his body.” – Green Valley News
Ledger’s physical fitness did not shield him from experiencing the distressing effects of the Gila monster’s venom. As he wrapped a towel around his bleeding fingers and intended to rest, he suddenly felt his condition deteriorating rapidly. Numbness, impaired mobility, stomach swelling, and vision loss ensued, leaving him lying on the floor, struggling to breathe.
“He was clammy, bloated, swollen, and clearly in pain, almost rolling around on his back.” – Ruth Kenrick
Ruth Kenrick, witnessing Ledger’s alarming symptoms, suspected a heart attack and promptly sought medical assistance. The Green Valley Fire District responded swiftly, administering necessary treatments and transporting Ledger to Banner-University Medical Center Tucson. Medical professionals were fascinated by the rare occurrence, as Gila monster bites are infrequent and seldom reported.
“The people there were famously wonderful. I got all the attention I could ever need.” – Bill Ledger
During his hospital stay, Ledger received exemplary care from the medical staff at Banner. Grateful for the support he received, he commends their expertise and attentiveness throughout the entire ordeal.
“To get bit you’d have to be in a situation where you’re interfering with an animal or you step on it… Leave them alone as much as possible.” – Tom Weaver, Herpetologist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Herpetologist Tom Weaver emphasizes the importance of respecting wildlife and avoiding unnecessary interference. Gila monsters, one of the only two venomous lizards in the world, are generally non-aggressive and prefer to avoid confrontation. However, when threatened, they can act swiftly to defend themselves.
“They move slow, bite fast… Call us. We’re professionals and we know how to handle it.” – Mark Hart, Public Information Officer with Arizona Game and Fish
Mark Hart from Arizona Game and Fish advises the public to refrain from handling wildlife and to contact professionals in such situations. Handling protected wildlife, including Gila monsters, is technically illegal. However, exceptions may be made in cases where human intervention is aimed at ensuring the animal’s safety.
“Untreated, he said a Gila monster bite could be fatal, though it’s rare. What they watch for after a bite is pain; low blood pressure; and swelling, including in the airway.” – Dr. Steven Dudley, Director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center
Dr. Steven Dudley, Director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, emphasizes the potential severity of untreated Gila monster bites. While fatalities are rare, medical attention should be sought immediately after a bite. Symptoms to watch out for include pain, low blood pressure, and swelling, including in the airway.
“How could I take the chance on just leaving it there and letting some crazy (driver) run him over… It was in the middle of the road… The animal ‘absolutely’ needed help.” – Bill Ledger
Reflecting on the incident, Ledger defends his actions, highlighting his concern for the well-being of the Gila monster. Despite the challenges he faced, Ledger maintains his compassionate stance towards animals and implies that, given similar circumstances, he might make the same choice again.
The encounter serves as a reminder to exercise caution when encountering wildlife and to leave their handling to professionals who possess the necessary expertise. By respecting and appreciating the natural habitats of creatures like Gila monsters, we can coexist harmoniously and prevent unnecessary harm to both humans and wildlife.