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Copperheads: How to avoid them before they go to their dens

East Tennessee hasn’t seen a widespread freeze this fall, so snakes, including copperheads are still out.
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 6:50 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - East Tennessee hasn’t seen a widespread freeze this fall, so snakes, including copperheads are still out.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, each year up to 8,000 people are bitten by a venomous snake in the U.S., only about five of those people die.

“The primary way that they avoid conflict is just by remaining camouflaged,” said Rachel Drown, a Zoo Knoxville reptile expert.

A Zoo Knoxville herpetologist said copperheads are not like rattlesnakes when it comes to warning.

“They’re kind of just remaining still on the ground and then they might just do a quick strike and nip you,” said Drown.

“We travel in pairs. One kind of looks out for the other,” said Nicki White, who WVLT News caught up with walking the nature trails at Ijams.

If you’re outside hiking or biking, make sure you stay on the trail. Wear closed toed shoes, and watch where you’re going.

“If you see one, avoid it by going around it or going the other direction,” said White.

Dr. Ryan Green, the Assistant Medical Director of the Emergency Department at UT Medical Center, said snake bites are treated every other week at the hospital during the warm months.

“So if you get bitten don’t try to go get the snake. You want to identify where you were bitten to see if there was a fang left in that bite, see if you developed any redness or swelling or irritation because those are all markers that it could be a venomous snake,” explained Green. “And then come to the hospital to be evaluated.”

Doctors will look to see the irritation and determine how much medication to give.

The hospital keeps plenty of anti-venom on hand.

By winter, the snakes will mostly be in their dens keeping warm since they’re cold-blooded creatures.

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