The 4 Most Notable Snake Bite Incidents in North Carolina This Year

Written by Sarah Barkley
Published: November 29, 2023
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North Carolina has 37 snake species, and six of them are venomous. You’re more likely to see snakes, and bite incidents increase when temperatures get warmer. Read about some of the most notable snake bite incidents in North Carolina this year, and then learn what to do if you see a venomous snake or get bitten by one.   

1. Child Bitten at the Zoo 

North Carolina Zoo

One of the most notable snake bite incidents in North Carolina this year was when a child got bitten by a copperhead snake at the North Carolina Zoo.

©ZikG/Shutterstock.com

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A 5-year-old visitor to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro got bitten by a copperhead snake in the Kidzone children’s area on June 8th. Trained staff treated the child onsite, and treatment continued at the hospital, where they fully recovered.

According to North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, copperheads are responsible for over 90% of venomous snake bites in the state. Their venom isn’t life-threatening but is serious and painful.  

2. Camping Trip Nightmare 

Blue Ridge Parkway autumn Landscape. North Carolina Highlands and Grandfather Mountain. Road winding in autumn mountains. Near Asheville, North Carolina. USA. Copy space.

Highlands, NC, is a beautiful camping location, but you’ll want to watch for snakes.

©Margaret.Wiktor/Shutterstock.com

During a family camping trip in Highlands, NC over Memorial Day Weekend, a 4-year-old boy got bitten by a venomous copperhead snake bite. The family rented a cabin for camping, and the snake was beneath the patio furniture outside.   

The boy’s father photographed the snake, helping hospital staff treat the bite correctly and quickly. His parents rushed him to the hospital, where he received ten vials of antivenom treatment before being airlifted to another location. It took three days for him to stabilize, but he regained health and is okay.  

3. Bitten While in the Garage 

copperhead snake

A 14-year-old boy recovered from a copperhead snake bite that happened while he was in his garage.

©outdoorsman/Shutterstock.com

A 14-year-old boy in Charlotte got bitten by a copperhead while in his garage. He was heading outside to play basketball but wasn’t wearing shoes, and the snake bit him between his toes.   

After getting treatment at a local hospital, the boy was okay, aside from swelling and discomfort. His 2-year-old brother was with him during the incident but was luckily unharmed. 

4. EMT Bitten While Barefoot 

Copperhead snake found in backyard of residential home.

It’s not always easy to see a snake on the ground, so one way to prevent snake bites is wearing shoes when you’re outside.

©Matt Donahue/Shutterstock.com

An EMT and firefighter, Zach Hunt, was bitten by a copperhead while taking out the trash at home. He wasn’t wearing shoes and stepped on the snake, resulting in a bite on his toe. His wife called 911, and he recovered after receiving five bottles of antivenom at the hospital and spending time in the ICU. 

Many bites occur when someone steps on a snake, and it’s not always easy to see them. Wearing shoes outside at all times can decrease your risk of getting bit.

What to do if you see a Venomous Snake in North Carolina

snake warning

Slowly move away from a snake without provoking it or trying to scare it.

©Wozzie/Shutterstock.com

Back away slowly if you see a snake, and don’t touch it. Walk away and give it time to leave the area, or if you can, go around it, giving it a wide berth. You’re more likely to experience snake bites as temperatures rise, with experts detailing increased odds of 6% per degree Celsius.  

Snakes typically don’t become aggressive towards humans unless they are scared and think they must defend themselves. It can happen if you put your hands or feet somewhere they’re hiding or come across one in hiding and surprise it by mistake. 

What to do if You or Someone You Are with Gets a Snake Bite in North Carolina

Snake bite

If you or someone with you gets bitten by a snake, apply first aid and seek medical attention immediately.

©Microgen/Shutterstock.com

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that more than 7,000 people get bitten by venomous snakes yearly in the United States. Of those bites, around five people die, but the death rate would be much higher without medical attention.  

If a snake bites you or someone with you, the CDC recommends remembering the snake’s shape and color to help with treatment. Immediately seek medical attention, but stay still so the venom doesn’t spread too quickly.  

If you can’t get to a hospital immediately, apply first aid. Wash the wound with soap and water and cover it with a clean cloth. Avoid putting ice on the bite because it could cause tissue damage, and keep it at heart level rather than letting it hang down.   

Don’t try to get the venom out by sucking or slashing the area. Trying to suck it out only urges it to a different spot, and it could get in your mouth. Consider contacting the Carolinas Poison Center for assistance by calling 1-800-222-1222. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © JacobLoyacano/Shutterstock.com

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