10-year-old Alexander Co. boy bitten by venomous snake

Snake season safety tips

ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Thursday night, a 10-year-old Alexander County boy was bitten by a poisonous snake outside his home – a Copperhead.

Snake expert with the Carolinas Reptile Rescue and Education Center Grover Barfield says Copperheads are the most common venomous snake in North Carolina. The best way to identify them, is that their markings are shaped like a Hershey’s kiss.

“When you go outside, you’re in their neighborhood,” Barfield says.

He adds, the reptiles’ bite is all a reaction.

“If the perceived threat gets too close, their only defense is to reach out and bite you,” Barfield says. “And 30 percent of the time, they don’t inject any venom.”

But Gabe Gilmore was bitten by the 70 percent – with venom.

His mom told WBTV off camera, he was just walking up the steps into his Alexander County home, when the Copperhead struck Thursday night.

“They’re normally not life-threatening bites,” Barfield says. “But they’re painful and can be expensive.”

Barfield says Copperheads were two of the three venomous bites he’s experienced personally.

“It burned and stung like a bee, but three to five times the intensity,” he says. “My hands swelled, I got bit right here on the knuckle and it went to the wrist in 30 minutes.”

He says snakes of all sorts are out now, because they are coming out of their version of hibernation. Plus, it is the end of mating season.

“They are interested in three things: water, food, and mating.”

But rising temperatures should send the snakes out of sight.

“Most of the snakes are going to chill out in the heat of the day, and we’re not going to see them,” he says.

If you are bitten by a venomous snake, Barfield has some tips.

He says you should remove any jewelry or tight clothes from that area, keep the bitten area at or below your heart, wash it gently, and get to the hospital.

Don’t, he says, eat anything, put ice on the bite, make any cuts around the area, or put on any kind of tourniquet.

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