By Vic Carter

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Venomous snakes in Maryland backyards. Copperhead attacks are on the rise, and that has experts wondering if it’s a product of the hurricane.

Vic Carter has more.

“It was almost like someone took a sharp knife and went (makes stabbing noise),” Debra Panitch said.

Panitch had no idea that the snake she stumbled on outside her Montgomery County house could be deadly.

Turns out the snake was a Northern Copperhead, one of two types of venomous snakes found in Maryland.

“If it blends in with the leaves, there’s a good chance it could be a copperhead,” said Steven Mickletz, a naturalist at the Irvine Nature Center in Baltimore.

Panitch says she picked the snake up with her hands to show her children that small snakes can’t hurt you. Within seconds, the snake bite hurt, and hurt her badly.

Within minutes of being bitten, her hand started swelling severely, so she called 911 and was rushed to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, where, after being given several doses of an anti-venom, the swelling finally started going down.

Incredibly, a few hours after Panitch was admitted to Shady Grove, another Montgomery County resident was treated at the hospital after he, too, was bitten by a venomous Northern Copperhead.

“The copperhead is the most common snakebite in America. It can be very severe,” Mickletz said.

Doctors say it’s possible that last week’s earthquake and this weekend’s hurricane somehow brought a number of snakes closer in contact with people.

“We know the bees are out there and upset, so it makes sense that the snakes would be, too,” a doctor said.

“As far as the hurricane goes, if there were rising floodwaters, the snakes would seek shelter somewhere else away from the forest and away from the rivers,” Mickletz said.

Panitch says she’s not taking any more chances in the backyard.

“I think my snake handling days are over,” she said.

Nature experts say copperheads can be identified by their diamond pattern, but if you’re not sure, simply keep your distance.

Comments (15)
  1. Al says:

    “Poisonous snakes, in Maryland backyards.”

    There are *no* poisonous snakes: all of them are perfectly edible. However, there *are* venomous snakes.

    1. Tom says:

      WjZ reporters are stupid.

  2. Chris says:

    I can’t stand that whole “they’re not poisonous, they’re venomous.” What normal person really cares what the difference is? You people are so pretentious. All I care about is if the bite can potentially be deadly.

  3. lisa says:

    Be aware of venomous snakes indigenous to your area. Teach your children what they should, and should not do if they see a snake. These creatures have as much right to this planet as humans do. Education and a little common sense go a long way.

  4. ladyshirley says:

    Don’t touch……simple really.

  5. Ray Ray says:

    You don’t hear about any snakes in the hood, they are too scared to show up.

  6. John says:

    Unfortunately Dan, due to mass transit such as busses and the metro/light rail in addition the fact it seems outside the city limits 15 condo/apartment homes are being built for every 1 single family home built (pack more people in closer proximity on less land) the slums are quickly spreading outward no longer contained within the city limits 😦

    Which speaking of limits, I’m about at mine. I think it’s time to move out west.

    1. boo-hoo-hoo says:

      Good riddance

      1. John says:

        Smart ass. Go downtwon and try that.

  7. IJS says:

    Why would anyone teach their children that it is ok to pick up a snake that is in the wild? Why do you have to take test to drive a car, but no test is required to have a child? Imagine the trauma of those kids watching their mother be rushed away in an ambulance, because of a “harmless” snake….

    1. Chel Jump says:

      I thought the same thing…why not leave it alone to go about its business…

  8. sad says:

    Take a line from BGE and “do not, do not, do not touch…” LOL
    Anyway, even the non-venomous snakes bite and they carry Salmonella in the mouth. A nonj-venomous bite can be very seriously infected! Wild animals are wild animals.
    The black rat snake is non venomous. He has round pupils. The copperheads you can tell by their coloration and “CAT EYE” pupil. Don’t touch a snake with a cat eye pupil.

  9. Michael says:

    It certainly not a great news for everyone especially for residents of Maryland. These snakes should be kept at a fair distance from people so they cannot harm human beings.

  10. michael012 says:

    Actually, when people die from Copperhead Snake bites it is due to an allergic reaction. People who are weak, or either very old or very young may however experience a significant impact on their body function from a Copperhead Snake bite. Source:

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