An encounter with a snake is a frightening experience, especially when it’s a venomous one, catching you by surprise. With 22 recognized species and 37 subspecies in the US, there is certainly a possibility of running into one of these dangerous reptiles and experiencing a snake bite in Alabama.
Venomous snakes fall into four main distinctions in the US: copperheads, cottonmouths, coral snakes, and rattlesnakes, which are the most prominent venomous snakes in the U.S. With that in mind, let’s examine 3 unfortunate and scary snake bite incidents that made headlines this year in Alabama.
1. Large Copperhead Bites 9-Year-Old Girl
One of the worst snakebite cases this year in Alabama was when a copperhead attacked a young girl named Shelby. She is the daughter of Jason Simpson, a meteorologist in Birmingham. Though they were pretty sure it was a copperhead, it wasn’t confirmed. Thankfully, though she had to go to the hospital, the young girl is doing well and was able to leave the hospital after the antivenom made it through her system.
2. Golfer Meets a Rattlesnake
Snakes can be found anywhere in the great outdoors. Take it from Chris Brown, who was bitten while golfing. He was at Deer Run Golf Course when he lost his ball in the grass. After picking up the ball, he felt a sharp pain in his ankle. It was a big rattlesnake, about 7 feet long, that he missed in the grass. When he jumped, it bit again, this time the left ankle. Chris was rushed to the hospital and is now doing pretty well after six anti-venom treatments, though some swelling is still present.
3. Woman Bit by Her Own Snake
Kayla Morrow is a snake removal expert. She has certification in snake venom and a lot of experience with handling these reptiles. Despite this, she made a mistake with her own snake one day, and ended up getting bit by a rattlesnake she kept for educational purposes. Thankfully, she knew what to do, managed to keep the bite elevated, and went to the hospital right away. She survived and doesn’t hold the snake accountable at all.
What Are the Most Common Venomous Snakes in Alabama?
While most snakes in the U.S. are nonvenomous, their venomous counterparts can still be found in most states. The following six venomous snakes may lead to a dangerous snake bite situation in Alabama:
- Eastern Coral Snake
- Rattlesnake (Timber Rattlesnake, Pygmy Rattlesnake, and the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake)
The most common venomous snakes residing in Alabama are the copperhead. They are found throughout the state. Alabama has two varieties; the northern copperheads and the southern copperheads. However, both are venomous.
Thankfully, copperheads are the least toxic of all snakes in the US. They are also fairly non-confrontational. If a human approaches them, copperheads would rather run away than attack.
Unfortunately, the second most common snake in Alabama is the cottonmouth, which is a much more venomous snake. Venom from this snake can lead to hemorrhaging and destroyed blood cells.
Rattlesnakes are next on this list. The three rattlesnake species in Alabama are found throughout the entire state. Though they don’t always bite, it’s good to pay attention to where you step.
Coral snakes are the last one. In Alabama, you’ll only find eastern coral snakes. They aren’t as common as the other snakes on this list. However, the main problem is that they look very similar to other snake species that are nonvenomous; the scarlet kingsnake and the scarlet snake.
Snakebite Season in Alabama
Though one can be bitten by snakes at any time of the year, the most common times are between March and November in Alabama. This is when it is the warmest and snakes are the most active.
What to Do if Someone Is Bit by a Venomous Snake
Getting bit doesn’t mean a death sentence, at least not here in the US. Out of 7,000 to 8,000 bites, there are only usually five deaths a year or so on average. The last death from a snake in the state was Oliver Baker in 2019, who died from a copperhead snake bite.
Though death isn’t common, a snake bite in Alabama is pretty common. There are the chances of permanent injuries as well, so it’s best to act quickly.
About half of all bites from venomous snakes are dry, which means they don’t release any venom. But you don’t want to take the chance and wait around to see if you have symptoms. It’s always best to act immediately after a snake bite.
It’s Important to React Quickly
The Children’s Hospital of Alabama offers a list of steps to take after you’re bitten by a snake. It’s important to stay calm, note the time, record any information you know about the snake, and remove any tight-fitting jewelry or clothing right after a bite. Then, you need to call poison help and 911 to get the best care. Following the bite, if side effects and pain start immediately, it’s best to skip poison control and immediately go to calling 911.
If you are waiting for an ambulance, it’s a good idea to try and wash the bite, as infections are a potential problem as well. But if you are driving to the hospital, don’t worry about cleaning the wound and just get to the emergency room as fast as possible.
There are a few myths about how to treat a snake bite that will end up making the situation worse. For example, you never want to restrict blood flow to the wound. Instead, if possible, raise the wound above the heart. You also don’t want to cut or suck out the poison from the wound. Though you might be in pain, it’s a good idea to not take any medications unless the doctors or poison control tell you it’s alright.
Alabama launched a program in 2022 for those bit by a snake. It was started by doctors at UAB (University of Alabama). It was set up to help with long-term treatments and faster response times for snakebites. Their goal is to help reduce the long-term effects of snakebites and provide better treatments for their patients.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Microgen/Shutterstock.com
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