HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico man is recovering Tuesday after being bitten by a copperhead snake over the weekend. Copperhead bites are rarely fatal, but the snakes are venomous, which is why he wants his neighbors in the Richmond area to be on alert, and on the lookout.
Dave Tashner was carrying groceries into his girlfriend's apartment on Bunclody Court Sunday afternoon, and didn't see the copperhead on the front step until after it sunk its fang into his foot.
"It felt like I stepped on a really hot nail that had been kind of sitting in the fire for a while," said Tashner. "It was kind of the worst pain I've ever been in."
When Tashner saw the reptile he didn't know what type of snake it was, but knew he needed medical treatment.
"It wasn't a black one. It wasn't a garter snake. It was the kind of snake you don't really want to get bitten by," said Tashner.
So before rushing him to the hospital, Tashner's girlfriend snapped this photo of the slithering snake, which doctors used to identify it as copperhead.
"I had chills the entire time I was looking for the snake. I needed the photo, I needed to get the photo," Julie Gibbs said.
The Richmond Wildlife Center says copperhead bites aren't usually fatal. In fact, 50 percent are dry bites and contain no venom.
The copperhead Tashner encountered did release some venom, but not enough to be lethal, so the hospital didn't need to prescribe him anti-venom, only painkillers.
Both Gibbs and Tashner think it would be helpful to be able to tell the difference between a harmful snake, and a potentially deadly one.
"It's equally important to realize the black snakes are good. They are really scary looking and can get really big, but the black snakes eat the copperheads," said Gibbs.
Melissa Stanley of The Richmond Wildlife Center says there are easy ways to tell if a snake is dangerous or not. First look at its eyes.
"If they have a slit that is venomous. If they have a nice round pupil it's harmless," said Stanley.
Stanley says if you encounter a snake skin, look at the end of the tail. If there are two rows of scales that's a harmless snake.
"When you find a single row scales that how you know it's a venomous snake," Stanley said.
Above all, Stanley says if you see a copperhead, or any snake, back away slowly, don't try to approach it, don't try to touch it, and don't try to pick it up.
As for Tashner and his recovery, he says it could be a matter of weeks before he is fully healed.
Henrico Animal Control confirms it responded to the call for the snake bite Sunday. The department says it is the county's only human bite so far this year.
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