SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Paramedics and rescue crews are sending out a different kind of warning as temperatures begin to increase: beware of snakes, and know how to get help if you encounter one.
A naturalist at the Oatland Island Wildlife Center says to never try to move or touch a snake if you see one. People usually run into non-venomous snakes, but as venomous and non-venomous snakes are found in the same places, distinguishing between the two can be tricky. Assuming that all snakes are venemous is a safe practice.
“We do have venomous snakes here in the state of Georgia, especially in Chatham County we have two main ones that you can run into," said Eric Swanson, a naturalist with the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. "We have our rattle snakes, and we do have our copper heads.”
As temperatures climb into the high 90′s and even triple digits, Swanson says snakes might be on the prowl, more often looking for cooler areas. However, he says if you can see any specific features on a snake, you’re too close.
“Based on looking, they’re going to be thicker in body length and in body width, they’re going to be shorter, typically they’re not long and skinny, they’re bulkier, they also have more diamond shaped head, they’re more triangular shaped head that’s where the venom glands are located on the side of the head just behind the eyes, they also have slits on their eyes instead of having a round pupil it’s a elongated slit eye like a cat eye,” said Swanson. “This time of year we do have some hatchling snakes some young snakes coming out, it is important to remember that snakes aren’t always two and three feet long sometimes they’re only 6 to 8 inches and those can be dangerous as well.”
Expercare Dr. Bob Mazur says that although they only treat a few cases of snake bites, it’s still important to know treatment options.
“All of the hospitals in Savannah have crotalid anti-venom so you could potentially save your limb,” said Dr. Mazur. "Crotalid anti-venom, crotalids are the most common families of snakes which are rattle snakes and copper heads and so those are the ones that I see that have snake bites in this area.”
Experts say it’s best to just stay away from snakes and to treat every snake like venomous snake. If you are bitten, trying to get a picture of the snake can potentially help doctors and experts determine what type of snake it is.