Copperhead bites affecting residents and their pets have been a hot topic recently in some Durham-area communities.
Several encounters were reported in the Watts Hospital-Hillandale Neighborhood Association listserve, which keeps private the identity of those making the posts.
On Friday, a resident of the Northgate Park community, near Northgate Mall near downtown Durham, told of how they were bitten on the ankle after stepping on a copperhead in their freshly-cut lawn at dusk on Thursday.
“I had to spend the night in the ER and the bite was extremely painful,” wrote the bite victim, who expected to fully recover.
They also offered ways they could have avoided being bitten – by not walking barefoot in their yard at sundown.
Another person reported their sister’s three dogs had to be taken to an emergency veterinary hospital after they were bit by a copperhead last Friday in northern Durham.
“The vet said she was 4, 5 and 6 on copperhead bites just that day,” the person posted. “So, it appears ‘tis the season.”
Indeed, it is the season. And among the six venomous species of snakes native to North Carolina – composed of copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes and coral snakes – copperheads are the most plentiful.
In the spring, the Carolinas Poison Center in Charlotte reported receiving 10 times more calls about copperhead bites than calls about all other snakes combined.
A report from the N.C. Cooperative Extension, a partnership of N.C. State and N.C. A&T State universities, indicates copperheads differ from NC’s other venomous snakes in that they show a tendency to strike immediately when threatened. The bites are often the result of people trying to kill or handle copperheads.
The good news: while said to be extremely painful, copperhead bites are not typically fatal but could be in the case of a small animal, according to the report.
“Copperheads bite more people in most years than any other U.S. species, but they also have the mildest venom,” the report said.