Reports of snake bites have surged in South Carolina, outpacing levels reached in recent years, officials say.
Palmetto Poison Center says 266 snake bites have been reported so far in 2019. Those calls surpass a total of 243 last year and 198 the year before, managing director Jill Michels said Friday in an email.
A particularly “busy week” came earlier this fall, with 24 snake bite calls from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, Michels wrote.
“Of the identified snakes, the large majority was copperhead,” she says.
Copperheads are one of 38 types of snakes found in South Carolina, state wildlife officials say. They are the “most common venomous” species in the state and can grow to about 3 feet, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
Officials say snakes are more active this time of year.
“Snakes are much like humans being that they like nice weather, so not too hot or cold,” spokesperson Kaley Lawrimore wrote in a Twitter message to McClatchy news group. “Typically, this is in the spring and fall, which also happens to be breeding season for some species.”
Lawrimore says this time coincides with a period when people may be doing work outside.
How can you prevent snake encounters?
To reduce the risk, people can cut down overgrown foliage, remove debris around houses and avoid putting their “hands or feet” in spots they can’t see, Lawrimore says.
Still, wildlife officials say venomous snake bites, especially fatal ones, are not that common.
“You are more likely to die choking on food or falling down stairs than from the bite of a snake,” the Department of Natural Resources says.
Palmetto Poison Center, which offers service throughout the state, is housed within the University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy, according to its website.