A Deadly Snake Bite Nearly Cost This Naked And Afraid Producer His Life

Discovery's "Naked and Afraid" is one of the harshest reality survival shows on television. This is because contestants are not only dropped in the middle of a remote location without food or water but also have to survive without the protection of any clothing. However, on top of being dangerous for the contestants, the show is also dangerous for the crew — as was discovered by Steven Rankin, one of the show's executive producers, when he ventured down to Costa Rica to scout a possible location for Season 1.

As Rankin explained on Discovery's "Naked After Dark" show on YouTube in which contestants discuss what happened during the episode after the fact, as he was walking through the Costa Rican rainforest he climbed over a fallen tree when a snake suddenly bit him on the foot. Unluckily for Rankin, the snake turned out to be fer-de-lance (locally known as the terciopelo) which is one of the top 20 snakes in the world ranked by danger level. ​​The fer-de-lance is both aggressive and venomous, delivering a bite that can cause death within 72 hours.

Surviving a fer-de-lance bite

According to Rankin in an interview with Outside, after the bite, he had hoped that it was just a misfire as sometimes snakes can bite without ejecting any venom. However, once the team removed his boot and saw that his blood was not clotting, it was immediately evident that the bite contained venom and they would have to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Luckily, Rankin was traveling with experienced guides who knew what to do. Instead of falling for the common myth of trying to suck the venom out of a snake bite (something that you should never do), his team fashioned a stretcher and hiked Rankin out of the rainforest and to a chopper which delivered him to the nearest hospital within two hours.

Getting to the hospital so quickly probably saved Rankin's life, but it was only the beginning of his journey toward recovery. As explained in "Naked After Dark," Rankin went through five surgeries to remove the areas of his foot that had begun to rot and he was still in the process of healing around a year after the bite had occurred.

Contestants get revenge for Rankin's bite

Later, during Season 1, when "Naked and Afraid" contestants Kim Shelton and Shane Lewis were dropped into the same area of the Costa Rican rainforest, they encountered another fer-de-lance. Knowing what had happened to Rankin, Lewis decided to take matters into his own hands stating, "It's the same snake that bit our executive producer Steve, and I'm gonna kill him," per Discovery's YouTube channel. Lewis then proceeded to hold down the highly venomous snake with one stick while hitting it with another until he successfully slayed the serpent.

As a survival show that tends to drop contestants into remote forested locations, Season 1 was not the last time snake encounters occurred on "Naked and Afraid." In fact, in Season 4, Gabrielle Balassone was bitten multiple times by a snake in the swamps of Mississippi, and Lilly Jammerbund and Sam Mouzer successfully killed a rattlesnake during Season 15 in New Mexico.

While killing snakes in a survival situation may be a good way to get protein and help contestants on reality shows make it to the next challenge, for most of us, the best course of action is to simply avoid snakes. One great and humane way to do this at home is to put cinnamon oil around your garden to repel snakes so that you can avoid any unnecessary encounters without the need to harm these sometimes-venomous reptiles.