Snakes are slithering in your backyard, and they bite - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Snakes are slithering in your backyard, and they bite

Jenna getting wrapped up in her work! Jenna getting wrapped up in her work!
 NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - This time of year our area becomes more active with visitors...and snakes. Each year, Grand Strand Medical Center doctors treat a couple dozen snake bites.

“It seems like we're seeing slightly higher volume for this early in the season,” said Grand Strand Medical Center Emergency Medicine Dr. Lark. “I've seen four or five venomous snake bites this year already, and everyone either had a picture of the snake or someone else took a picture of the snake.”

That made it easy for Dr. Lark to know those bites were from copperheads. Often, they're brown in color, which can make them tough to see in your yard.

Dr. Lark said his patients are usually golfers, state park-goers, and those who try to pick one up, which you should never try. Another common encounter is accidental: stepping on a snake without realizing it was under you. The best thing to do: cover your feet when you're outside, and your hands if you garden.

Copperheads are one of the six species we see in our area. They're not considered the most dangerous, but they are the ones whose bites Dr. Lark treats most often. Another venomous snake common to our area is the water moccasin or cottonmouth. The snakes you want to avoid the most are the coral, and the rattlesnake. Dr. Lark said those are the ones you're least likely to come across, and the most dangerous here. With any snake, don't let size fool you.

“Just because you got bit by a small snake, that doesn't mean it's gonna be a minor bite that could actually be the more serious bite,” said Dr. Lark.

Experts say, snakes are more afraid of us than we are of them, but they're just as protective. The Snake Chaser, Russell Cavender, said never approach a snake. If you see one, back away. If one takes you by surprise when you're walking and sinks in its teeth, don't panic.

“You'll feel pain from puncture wounds first, and then variable time depending on if you got in-venomated and by which snake, you'll first notice local effects, pain, swelling, that kind of thing,” said Dr. Lark.

Stay calm, and head to the emergency room. If you don't, you could run the risk of suffering permanent damage.

While you're on your way to get treated, Dr. Lark said put the limb with the bite in a neutral position so if there is venom it doesn't seep into other areas of your body. The good news: not every snake here carries venom or will even leave venom behind. But any bite should get looked at by a doctor, as soon as possible.

Not every bite needs to be treated with anti-venom. Since it's a costly medication, and like any other meds, can have side effects, it's given on a case by case basis. Out of the five bites Dr. Lark treated already this year, he only had to use anti-venom for one.

If you see a snake, you can reach out to the police department. Officers will evaluate the situation for you. If they are unable to capture the snake, they'll give you the number of an exotic animal catcher, like The Snake Chaser, who will safely capture the animal for you.


Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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