Reporting 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.