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There is a humorous video entitled "Harry Potter: How it should have ended" from the infamous Youtube channel HISHE.

It points out (amongst other things) that, given Snape's nature as a

double agent for Dumbledore in Voldemort's ranks

and his extensive knowledge of potions including anti-venoms:

For your information Potter, Asphodel and Wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of the Living Death, a Bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons. As for Monkshood and Wolfbane, they are the same plant which also goes by the name of Aconite. Well, why aren't you all copying this down?

... should have made him ready for the attack on him by Nagini.

We know an anti-venom does exist, because

Arthur was sent to St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, and was to take a Blood-Replenishing Potion every hour to counter the blood loss that would otherwise cost him his life, but was otherwise fine ... Eventually, Arthur managed to find an antidote to dispel the venom.

Of course Snape could have been caught unaware, but I find this unlikely as he knew how precarious his position was with regards to Voldemort, and his knowledge of Nagini.

Is there any reason he would not have had an anti-venom ready or found some way to immunized himself against the poison?

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    This was after Volde killed when he found out that Harry had found the Cup. I think Snape would know how impassioned and irrational Voldemort could be. – AncientSwordRage Apr 13 '12 at 13:13
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    But then Snape, a clever man would know Voldemort would use Nagini, because he would know that only a great fool would kill a dark arts expert with dark magic. However, Voldemort is not a great fool, so would clearly not choose magic as his method of murder. But Voldemort must have known Snape was not a great fool, he would have counted on it, so Snape can clearly not rule out Nagini as a way of being murdered. – AncientSwordRage Apr 13 '12 at 13:47
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    @Pureferret: So are we saying that Snape fell victim to one of the greatest blunders? The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land-war in Asia", but only slightly less well-known is to "never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line"? I hope you get that... – Meg Coates Apr 13 '12 at 14:23
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    Ah! The least well-known blunder of all! – Meg Coates Apr 13 '12 at 15:27
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    And here I was hoping that the result of this discussion was a question, "Was Voldemort Sicilian?" – dlanod Apr 13 '12 at 21:13
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Well, your question is Why didn't Snape have antivenin (antitoxin) for Nagini's bite, not How did Snape die, yes? We know Snape at least taught antivenins in Potions:

Snape reached the front of the class and turned to face them.

‘The general standard of this homework was abysmal. Most of you would have failed had this been your examination. I expect to see a great deal more effort for this week’s essay on the various varieties of venom antidotes, or I shall have to start handing out detentions to those dunces who get a “D”.’

Order of the Phoenix - page 277 - British Hardcover - chapter 15, The Hogwarts High Inquisitor

Harry did not answer at once. He pretended to be perusing a page of Asiatic Anti-Venoms, because he did not want to say what was in his mind.

Order of the Phoenix - page 295 - British Hardcover - chapter 16, In the Hog's Head

  • I don't think Snape expected to come out of the second Voldemort war alive. I think he fully faced the prospect of dying; he knew that Voldemort held little value for even his most loyal Death Eaters. After all, Harry comes to think of Snape as "one of the bravest men [he] knows". As Slughorn carried the antidote to Veritaserum at all times, it's not a stretch to assume Snape would have thought of the possibility of trying to procure antivenin. I think he chose not to take precautions against Voldemort.
  • We don't even know what kind of snake Nagini is. Antivenin is not universal. Each antivenin is specific to a given snake's venom. If Snape didn't know what kind of snake Nagini was, it would have been nearly impossible for him to have made an antivenin.
  • Arthur actually was given Muggle stitches because the magical treatments weren't working well against Nagini's bite. Nagini's venom dissolved the stitches. If St. Mungo's staff didn't have an immediate antivenin for Nagini, it's possible an exact antivenin never existed. Snape could not possess what doesn't exist. An antidote is for poison, which is traditionally ingested. Lethal snake venom is usually a neurotoxin -- an antivenin is an antitoxin, which is different than an antidote. (Semantics? Probably. Just bringing it up for consideration)
  • Nagini's venom seemed immediately incapacitating for both Arthur and Snape; Snape may have known that even if he did have the antivenin for Nagini, that he would be unable to take it:

‘I have already told you,’ said Snape smoothly, ‘that I have no further stocks of Veritaserum. Unless you wish to poison Potter – and I assure you I would have the greatest sympathy with you if you did – I cannot help you. The only trouble is that most venoms act too fast to give the victim much time for truth-telling.’

Order of the Phoenix - page 656 - British Hardcover - chapter 32, Out of the Fire

  • Antivenin may have been regulated: ANTIDOTES ARE ANTI-DON’TS UNLESS APPROVED BY A QUALIFIED HEALER. (OotP - page 428 - UK - ch 22) Perhaps the particular ingredients for an antivenin for Nagini were unavailable.

Oh, and a quick note on Voldemort. You say in your comment above that Voldemort is not a great fool. Canon represents Voldemort as a technically superior wizard, but Dumbledore reiterates over and over that Voldemort is woefully ignorant of and unlearned in anything he considers beneath his notice or approval, and therefore his magic and judgment suffers because of his disdain. In the end we can fully appreciate how foolish Voldemort really was.

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    If antidotes are anti-don'ts unless approved by a qualified healer, does that make them do's? – Gabe Willard Apr 13 '12 at 16:15
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    Just thought about your last paragraph, besides my comment being in jest, I think Voldemort would not have considered Dark Magic, Potions and Venoms to be 'beneath his notice'. He creates a new potion and later had an insubordinate brew and ancient and powerful dark magic potion. – AncientSwordRage Apr 13 '12 at 18:09
  • @Pureferret - Thanks! :) Re: Voldemort, your comment is taken in good spirit. I definitely agree with you on your points. I should have been clearer - I was referring to Voldemort ignoring the magical powers of love and loyalty, of smaller creatures (like house-elves), etc. :) – Slytherincess Apr 14 '12 at 0:12
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    Smaller creatures....like the Honey Badger? ;) – AncientSwordRage Apr 14 '12 at 7:59
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  1. Snape wasn't killed by the venom only - He was killed by the snake bite

    There was a terrible scream. Harry saw Snape’s face losing the little color it had left; it whitened as his black eyes widened, as the snake’s fangs pierced his neck, as he failed to push the enchanted cage off himself, as his knees gave way and he fell to the floor.
    .... He pointed it at the starry cage holding the snake, which drifted upward, off Snape, who fell sideways onto the floor, blood gushing from the wounds in his neck. Voldemort swept from the room without a backward glance, and the great serpent floated after him in its huge protective sphere.
    (Deathly Hallows, Ch 32, "The Elder Wand")

  2. He was incapacitated physically by the Nagini's cage, so he wouldn't have been able to take the antidote after being bitten even if the venom was part of the damage

    The snake’s cage was rolling through the air, and before Snape could do anything more than yell, it had encased him, head and shoulders...

    There was a terrible scream. Harry saw Snape's face losing the little color it had left; it whitened as his black eyes widened, as the snake's fangs pierced his neck, as he failed to push the enchanted cage off himself, as his knees gave way and he fell to the floor.

    ... Snape, who fell sideways onto the floor, blood gushing from the wounds in his neck. (DH)

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    Voldemort removes the cage from Snape, after the snake bites him. He has the energy and strength to try and staunch the blood as Harry moves a crate out of the way and crawl into the room. I think if he had an antidote he had ample time and strength to apply it, or at least pass it to Harry. Perhaps he wanted to die. – AncientSwordRage Apr 13 '12 at 15:04
  • DVK, why did you change Incapacitated back to incapasitate? – AncientSwordRage Apr 13 '12 at 15:26
  • @Pureferret - because SE edits don't have merge capability :( I had my typo-ed answer open while I was editing it, so my later edit overwrote your earlier one. Sorry. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 13 '12 at 15:32
  • Fixed it for you. :-) – AncientSwordRage Apr 13 '12 at 15:33

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