Why it's not a good time to be scared of snakes in Georgia

Snake sightings are on the rise.

Bad news for those of you scared of snakes: reported snakes bites are on a record pace this year, according to Georgia Poison Control.

From January through April, there were about 55 people bitten, GPC Director Gaylord Lopez said. That's about 50 percent more than the number of bites reported in the same time period last year. And last year itself saw a record number of snake bites -- around 500 -- Lopez said. At this rate, we're well on the way to breaking that record this year.

So why the increase? Lopez blames the winter -- or this year's lack thereof. Lopez said the mild temperatures we felt this year meant that there was more time for snakes to slither about. In fact, the first reported snake bite of the year was on Jan. 3, Lopez said.

Some of the ones you've seen (story continues below gallery)

Note: Have you snapped a picture of a snake? Email it to us!

Typically, Georgia Poison Control sees most reports of snake bites from March through October (apparently snakes don't like the cold). 

Snake bites can be painful and scary, but they usually aren't fatal, Lopez said. There have only been two deaths reported in the "last 8 or 9 years" in Georgia, he said.

But while they may not kill you, they can make a huge dent in your pocket book. 

Lopez said vials of anti-venom can run anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 a pop -- and most people need between four and six. It's not uncommon for someone to get up to 40(!) vials. Do the math: that's not cheap.

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If you are bitten, Lopez said worry about one thing: "Get yourself to a hospital."

It's true that there can be ways to tell if a snake is venomous by its appearance, most people aren't paying close enough attention to really tell, Lopez said. Plus, alcohol can often play a role. Bottom line: it's better to be safe than sorry. Usually symptoms show up sooner than later, so don't waste time.

Georgia is second only to North Carolina in the number of snakes bites in the Southeast, Lopez said. And our friends over at NBC Charlotte report a similar uptick in bites this year. 

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Only about six venomous species are found in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources: Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Timber Rattlesnake, the Pigmy Rattlesnake, the Eastern Coral Snake and the Cottonmouth (also called the Water Moccasin). Of those, the Copperhead is most widely seen through much of metro Atlanta.

PHOTOS: Snakes commonly seen in North Georgia

Where can you expect to see snakes? Well, anywhere really, but especially in wooded areas and places where there are water supplies such as lakes or streams. Be especially wary in bushes or shrubs or if you're doing something like moving old wood. Snakes aren't looking for you, but if you sneak up on them, they might not be happy.

Here are some that were spotted in strange places:

Don't forget that your furry friends are also susceptible to snake bites. Lopez said that he suspects a record number of pets are also being bitten this year.

Some tips on what NOT to do if you're bitten:

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a few things you should definitely not do if you get bit by a snake.

  • Never assume the bite is not poisonous. Call 911 and report it. Don't be a hero.
  • Do not wash the bite. The venom can help identify the snake and tell doctors exactly what kind of anti-venom is needed.
  • Never apply a tourniquet or ice. The venom can become trapped in an extremity if too much pressure is applied, which could cause tissue damage.
  • DON’T try to suck the venom out yourself, Lopez says that just doesn't work.


© 2017 WXIA-TV


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