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Child bitten by copperhead in Orangeburg; experts provide advice about snake bites
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Child bitten by copperhead in Orangeburg; experts provide advice about snake bites

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Copperhead

An 18-month-old child was bitten by a copperhead snake on Wednesday. This photograph shows an example of a copperhead.

An 18-month-old Orangeburg boy was bitten by a copperhead snake Wednesday afternoon.

The boy was playing outside at a Putter Path residential playground when he was bitten by the snake, according to neighborhood residents who didn’t want their names used.

The child was taken to a Columbia hospital but the status of the child's condition was not immediately known Friday afternoon.

The copperhead is South Carolina’s most common venomous snake, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

According to DNR, the snake can reach a length of 4 feet. The average adult is between 2 and 3 feet.

Its background color varies from pink to coppery-tan with dark brown hourglass-shaped cross-bands overlying. The head is typically a uniform copper color.

"Taking precautions such as looking before sticking your hands into thick vegetation or in small spaces, wearing closed-toed shoes, and using lights/flashlights when outside between dusk and dawn, around your home or in the forest, are good steps to reducing the probability of a snake bite," SCDNR Reptile and Amphibian Conservation Coordinator Andrew Grosse said.

According to the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, "Snakes breed and reproduce during the spring and fall months, making these mate-seeking times of the year the most active periods for snakes.”

Copperheads are the least venomous of the venomous local snakes, though their bite still requires immediate medical attention, according to DNR.

Copperhead bite symptoms include swelling, pain, shock, tingling, numbness and even anaphylaxis.

"If bitten by a venomous snake, you should try to remain calm, remove any tight-fitting rings, etc. and get to a hospital as quickly as possible," Grosse said. "All venomous snake bites should be evaluated at a hospital by professionals."

DNR and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory offer suggestions on how to avoid snakes and what to do if bitten by a snake.

Here are other ways to avoid snakes:

• Try to stay on trails that offer good visibility of the ground.

• Snake chaps (leggings) can provide adequate protection for legs if you are working or hiking in areas where venomous snakes are common.

• Walk around logs instead of stepping over them. Some snakes are rodent specialists and feed along logs.

• If you encounter a snake, simply step back or, if you are on the road, drive around or let it pass. Leave it alone.

• Keeping yards clear of debris and structures keeps snakes from using these areas.

• Use gloves and remove firewood from wood piles carefully and during daylight hours.

• Keep pets on a leash.

• Teach children how to identify snakes.

Some tips if bitten by a snake:

• Do not eat or drink anything.

• Stay calm and do not run or engage in strenuous activity.

• Remove all jewelry or watches from affected area.

• Take note of the snake’s size and pattern or take a photo, but do not try to capture or kill the snake. Identifying the snake is important so that if it is venomous the correct anti-venom can be given.

• Wash the wound and immobilize the area, keeping it lower than the heart of possible.

• Get to the nearest emergency room.

• Do not cut the wound or attempt to suck the venom out. Ice also is not very effective in snake-bite cases.

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