Mecklenburg County has had dozens of venomous snake bites since March, data shows

Mecklenburg County has had dozens of venomous snake bites since March, data shows

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - Wondering why the Charlotte area has recently had a lot of copperhead bites, with four reports over a two-week span?

Well, turns out Mecklenburg County is one of the places in the state where you're most likely to be bitten by a venomous snake, based on data from the Carolinas Poison Center.

There have been 60 venomous snake bites reported in Mecklenburg County between March 1 and Oct. 15, according to the data. That comes to about two bites per week, or one every 3.8 days.

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The county is ranked No. 2 in the state for venomous snake bites, among 100 counties.

So who is No. 1?

Wake County, home of the state capital, with 82 venomous venomous bites since March 1, according to the data.

It's not clear from the numbers which venomous snakes are doing the most biting in Charlotte, though experts said copperheads are the most common venomous snake in the area.

It's also not clear if the data shows an increase in venomous bites for Mecklenburg County over last year. A spokesperson at the Carolina Poison Center could not be reached by the Observer.

However, venomous snake bites were up in North Carolina as a whole last spring over the previous year, and experts said the likely cause was the mild winter weather. The number of North Carolina residents bitten by snakes in April increased nearly four-fold over the same period in 2016, reported Carolinas Poison Center. In April, the Poison Control Center got 71 calls about snake bites, up from 19 calls in April 2016, media outlets reported.

The latest data through Oct. 15 reveals Mecklenburg County has a drastically higher number of venomous bites than surrounding counties, despite the fact that those counties are more rural.

Among the leading counties in the area for venomous bites: Catawba County, 11; Cleveland and Davidson counties, 9 each; Cabarrus and Iredell counties , 7 each; Burke, Union and Stanly counties, 6 each.

The data ranked the Top 50 of the state's 100 counties. The number reflects only those cases where information was called into the Carolinas Poison Center, officials said.

Mecklenburg remains the largest county in the Carolinas, with an estimated 2016 population of more than 1.05 million. Right behind it is Wake, which has about 8,000 fewer people than Mecklenburg. In 2010, that gap stood at nearly 19,000.

Four copperhead bites were reported around Charlotte earlier this month, including three adults and a child who was pushing her bike in the street.

So why are two of the state's most populace counties ranked so high in venomous snake bites?

Experts said the booming development is putting people and snakes in closer proximity. The chances of snake encounters are even greater in communities that have popular greenway systems, as is the case in Charlotte. The greenways provide everything needed by snakes to survive, including water and rodents to feed on, experts said.