Copperheads striking pets in Chesterfield County

By Beth Danziger - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A warning for Chesterfield residents. Copperhead snakes are out and they're biting. They're being seen most often in the Midlothian area, particularly by the Walton Lake neighborhood.

The two local emergency veterinarian clinics have had 32 snake bite cases in just the last month. Several of those were from copperheads but nature experts warn residents not confuse copperheads with another Virginia snake that's actually good for the area.

Steven Misiano has learned his lesson. He now only walks his 10-year-old dog "Bandit" in the day light. A week ago a copperhead snake bit Bandit on the nose.

"20 minutes later the venom started to work on him and he was yelping in pain," said Steven Misiano.

The emergency vet clinic pumped Bandit full of fluids, antibiotics, and morphine. He's making a full recovery. But while at the clinic three other dogs came in with the same type of bites.

One of Misiano's neighbors saw a baby copperhead slither away in his yard just the other day...

"I walk my dog out here so he can do his business and I don't want him to get bit," said neighbor Rick Ferrell.

According to the emergency vet clinic snake bite numbers always rise when it gets warm. But 32 cases in one month is high. And it's even rarer for copperheads to be so conspicuous.

"Normally you don't see them. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't but most of the time you don't," said Denise Flora of the Rockwood Park Nature Center.

If you are looking for copperheads in your yard nature experts warn don't get it confused with another Virginia native, the Corn Snake.

Corn Snakes are not venomous and help cut down on rodents. The differences in the two are in the head, eyes, and tail. The Corn Snake has a round head instead of a triangular one. Its eyes are round and black instead of cat like. And its pattern carries all the way to the tail.

An adult copperhead's tail is black while a baby's is yellow. Nature experts also warn if you shouldn't try to kill a copperhead if you see it, just let it be. If you do however see a dead one don't pick up with bare hands...its bite reflexes keep working well after it dies.

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