It's called a West African Gaboon viper and it's one of the world's most poisonous snakes.

What it's doing in Winnipeg is still a mystery, but a 31-year-old man is in hospital after being bitten in the face.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority tropical medicine expert Pierre Plourde says a single drop of the viper's venom can kill you.

"They have huge teeth that are about an inch or two inches long. They produce a lot of venom, up to two teaspoons at once," he said.

Winnipeg police say they don't know where the man was when he was bitten, and say they're not sure where the snake is, either. They searched the victim's house, but couldn't find it. Investigators suggest the attack may have happened somewhere outside the city.

Const. Jacqueline Chaput says they believe someone is in possession of the viper and that it's not out there loose.

Police believe the man has an intense interest in snakes, and that interest may have saved his life. He was taken to hospital by a friend, but was able to tell health care workers just what antidote he needed before becoming unconscious.

The antidote had to be shipped in from Indian River, Ontario.

Venomous snakes are hard to come by because they are illegal to have in Winnipeg, but some Manitoba municipalities do allow them.

With a report by Rachel Lagace.