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A Lake Elsinore man could lose his hand after being bitten by a rattlesnake he was holding and taking pictures with, he and his mother said Thursday.

Alex Gomez found the 4-foot-long snake in a field behind his home on Monday and decided to pick it up.

The 36-year-old could be seen holding the snake and even wrapping it around his neck in photographs provided to KTLA by his mother.

At some point after the photos were taken, the rattlesnake attacked Gomez, biting him in the hand.

“I was going to take it off my neck and do something else with it, but it turned sideways, and it sunk its one tooth into … my hand,” Gomez said.

He threw the snake off and ran to a neighbor’s to call 911.

“I was terrified and I said ‘What a fool. Stupid. He could die,'” his mother Debra Gomez said.

Alex Gomez was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center for treatment.

He was out of the hospital Thursday night but still faced the possibility he could lose the use of his arm and have his thumb amputated.

“Don’t mess with snakes,” Gomez said. “Just leave them alone.”