Copperhead season off to a slow start, but calls are starting to pick up

Updated: Jul. 25, 2019 at 9:13 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s that time of the year again, when people are seeing more snakes throughout the Grand Strand.

However, there’s one species local experts say tend to pop up more during this time of year that residents should keep an eye out for - copperheads.

Russell Cavender, also known as the Snake Chaser, said he’s been catching all sorts of snakes so far this year, but peak copperhead season is approaching.

Since the spring, Cavender said he’s had at least 30 calls about copperheads, whose season typically runs from May until November.

According to Cavender, dry weather has led to a slower start to the 2019 copperhead season. Still, residents shouldn’t let their guard down.

Of the 38 different snake species in South Carolina, only six are venomous, including the copperhead. Experts said if you spot one, there’s a good chance there’s more.

The venomous snakes are commonly found in wooded areas where there’s leaf litter, pine straw, or mulch. Copperheads are hourglass shaped, with a triangular head and a brown color, which can make them tough to spot outdoors. They average in size to about 2.5 feet long.

Cavender said copperhead “hot spots” along the Grand Strand are Surfside Beach, Carolina Forest, Longs and Loris.

Although they can sometimes be impossible to spot, copperheads won’t miss you. However, they don’t bite unless they are provoked.

“Snakes do not attack; they protect themselves. They’re not aggressive. An aggression is an attempt, a snake is only going to bite you if it feels threatened," Cavender said. "If you try to kill it, you’re trying to pick it up, you’re trying to swish it away and step on it; there’s so many ways to get bitten by a snake, but it’s not going to come up to you and bite you.”.

Cavender said if you spot a snake, it’s best to leave it alone and keep your distance because if you’re close enough to hurt it, you’re close enough to get attacked.

Medical experts also note there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re bitten by a snake:

· Stay calm and be prepared to get to a hospital

· If it’s a venomous bite and starts to swell or blister immediately, remove items like shoes, watches and rings

· Never apply ice to a snake bite or try to suck out the venom. Wounds should be washed out with warm water

· If you’re planning to be outdoors - especially at night - the best thing to do is cover your feet.

“As for protecting your house, you can clean the yard and make sure it’s nice and clean - no debris on the ground. Trim your bushes real well, keep the leaf litter, don’t use pine straw. Pine straw is the worst mulch you can use,” said Cavender.

If you ever see a snake inside your house, don’t panic. Cavender said the best thing to do is try to keep it contained in one area. So, close the doors if it’s in a room and put a towel under while you wait for a professional to remove it.

Copperheads aren’t the only common venomous snakes people come across along the Grand Strand. Local wildlife experts said to also keep an eye out for cottonmouths and rattlesnakes.

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