GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) –As the weather warms up, people aren’t the only ones getting out into the sunshine so are snakes.
The state’s Department of Natural Resources says there are 38 snake species in South Carolina, only six of which are venomous.
As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7News Anchor Taylor Murray spoke with an emergency medicine physician and has what you need to know.
“Right now, in the upstate, we have three different types of poisonous snakes or venomous snakes.”Dr. Coben Thorn, Emergency Medicine, Bon Secours St. Francis
Dr. Coben Thorn, an emergency medicine physician, says the most common is the copperhead, but there are also two types of venomous rattlesnakes in the upstate– the pygmy rattlesnake and the timber rattlesnake.
“And besides that, there are more venomous snakes further south,” Dr. Thorn said.
You should never get too close to a snake, just in case, it is venomous.
But if you are a safe distance away, there are some indicators you can look for to determine if it is harmful or not.
For example, if the snake has a rattle, then it’s obviously dangerous and deadly.
“If they have like a cat-like pupil, which is like a vertical slit instead of like a round pupil like we have, that is a poisonous snake. They have a little heat sensor. All the snakes are pit vipers in the upstate that are venomous, so there’s a low heat pit between their nose and their eyes. And the other way would be like a triangular head,” Dr. Thorn said.
If you get bitten by a snake– act fast.
“Honestly, you should just apply some soap and water to the area, just rinse it out. Wash it out, just like you would do with any other cut. And ultimately, you need to go to the emergency department. That would be the closest one to you at that time, because you really don’t know whether you have venom inside you or not.”Dr. Coben Thorn, Emergency Medicine, Bon Secours St. Francis
Don’t risk getting struck again, but if possible, take a cell phone picture of the snake that bit you to show to the emergency room doctors.
“The only treatment for these snake bites is a medication that only emergency departments stock and that’s called CroFab,” Dr. Thorn said.
If you are out hiking, camping, or in a situation where you are too far from an E.R., Dr. Thorn says check to see if you have cell service and call 911 immediately after getting bitten. They can walk you through what to do and send help your way.
But don’t do this…
“They do not recommend tourniquets. Do not start sucking on the wound. Don’t try to do any extraction or cutting of it. Just basically clean it, leave it alone, and just try to get out of the area as soon as you can,” Dr. Thorn said.
If you plan to spend time on any one of our beautiful lakes this summer, rest assured, that there are no venomous water snakes in the upstate.
To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.