Snake bites on the rise in Wake County


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — If you’re outside at night or doing some gardening during the day, you may want to be on the lookout for snakes. 

Doctors say they’re seeing more and more snakebite cases in Wake County.
Last year, there were 130 snakebites treated within the WakeMed system and doctors say this year could surpass that. 

“The last couple weeks I’ve been hearing about a bite almost every day or every other day,” said emergency physician Benjamin German, M.D.

Recently, German treated a 2-year-old.

RELATED NEWS: NC leads country in snake bites, Wake County has most in state

“Most of the bites we see are actually around people’s houses and in some fairly suburban areas,” he said. 

German said lately the bites seem to happen when people are walking around outside at night.

“If it’s a hot day, the snakes are going to be laying low and trying to hide, so you’re less likely to run into them on a hot, sunny, bright day,” he said.

A lot of bites also happen while people are gardening. 

“Putting their hands in piles of leaves or bushes where again the snakes are trying to hide and they’re just biting defensively,” said German.

Contrary to popular belief, he said snakes aren’t out to bite people. 

“They want to hide. They want to avoid conflict as much as possible.”

So why are the bites on the rise? 

“I think a big reason is just the population growth here, we’re having a lot more people move to the area and they’re coming into contact with the snakes,” said German.

The main venomous snake in Wake County is the copperhead. 

The copperhead’s pattern looks similar to fallen leaves, its head is typically diamond-shaped, and from the side it looks like it has Hershey’s kisses on it. 

Doctors said it’s rare for a copperhead bite to be deadly. The bites still warrant medical attention though, as the venom will cause pain and swelling as it spreads

“The key takeaway is if you’re not sure what it is, stay away. Don’t pick it up,” said German.

If you see a snake, just walk away from it and keep a safe distance of at least five feet. A lot of snakes are actually beneficial to the land and aren’t venomous.

German said one common myth is baby snakes have the most venomous bites — that’s not true.

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