AMELIA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A woman is recovering after being bitten by a copperhead snake earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Virginia Poison Center is getting multiple calls a week related to snakebites.
Heather Harold told WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, that she was looking for her ducks and went into the woods on Monday, June 13. Her two small children soon followed. Harold said she then felt a sting.
“It was one of those incidents where I thought maybe it was a stick that hit my leg,” Harold said. “There was a burning sensation, there was itchiness and some like localized swelling.”
She took a picture of the culprit, a copperhead snake.
Harold then began to experience even more pain, with the swelling and bruising getting worse.
“After I took the photo of the snake, it really hit me,” Harold said. “And then I made sure my kids were safe. I was like, am I going to die?”
Harold’s neighbors ultimately ended up taking her to the hospital, but by the time she got there, she could barely walk.
A video shows her struggling to move her toes on her right foot.
According to Dr. Ruddy Rose, the director of the Virginia Poison Center at VCU Health, the hospital typically sees around 180 snakebites a year.
Snakebite season is from March to October. Bites start to increase in May and will be prevalent through the warmer season, but then in October, they will start to decrease as the snakes begin to hibernate.
Over 80% of bites in Virginia come from three species: copperheads, cottonmouths or rattlesnakes. A large majority of the bites in the metro Richmond area toward the Northern Neck come from copperheads.
The copperhead is fairly common and adaptable. It is a copper color, and its venom is not as potent as that of a rattlesnake.
Rose said people get bitten because they are sharing the same environment as the snake. The snakes bite in self-defense and occasionally leave fang marks.
John Kleopfer, who works with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, says these bites are not deadly, but do need medical attention.
Experts say if you’re near a copperhead, be sure to make enough noise so they will avoid you. It is also suggested that residents avoid clutter and brush piles in their yards, as these are places the snakes can be found hiding.
If you get bitten, don’t panic. Instead, contact the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222, or call 911.
“Don’t live your life in fear,” Kleopfer said.
If you’d like to learn more about different species of snakes in the Commonwealth, there are resources available here.