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What to do if you are bitten by a snake

Copperhead ( VENOMOUS ) Credit: J.D. Willson


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – 7News has been hearing from many of viewers about snake sightings.

While most snakes in the Carolinas are not venomous, we checked in with the experts on what you should do if you do get bitten.

State Wildlife Specialist Dr. Cory Heaton told 7News most snakes will not bite, but instead slither away.

However, this time of year some are shedding, and that could lead to an uptick in bites.

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“When you’re particularly vulnerable to snake bites is when they are shedding, and they do become a bit more aggressive when they’re shedding because they can’t see,” said Dr. Heaton.

Melissa Engdahl, of Charleston, said her 12-year-old son was bitten by a venomous snake earlier this month.

“I was immediately stricken with fear and panic. When it happened, it was dark outside and he felt the bite and quickly shook the snake off, which didn’t allow the snake to put a lot of venom inside of him,” said Engdahl.

She said doctors were not sure if it was a water moccasin or a copperhead.

In the Upstate, you also have to watch out for venomous timber rattlesnakes.  Here is more on SC snakes.

If you spot a snake, you don’t have to play a guess game. Just pull out your phone, take a photo from a safe distance and send it to the Clemson Extension or the SC Department of Natural Resources. Both resources have people who will identify the snake for free.

Engdahl warns not all hospitals have anti-venom, so know the one nearest you that does.

7News checked with Prisma Health in Greenville, Spartanburg Regional Health System and AnMed Health. All three hospitals said their emergency rooms have anti-venom. But the independent urgent care centers may not have it on hand.

Engdahl also said you should join and bookmark this Facebook page, National Snakebite Support Group. It can help advise you for free.

“I’m telling you these people stayed up with us all night until they knew my son was safe and going to make it,” Engdahl said.

Doctors marked the swelling in her son’s foot until they were sure the venom was not spreading. Now he’s back to running around, this time with shoes on.

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