While no information about his condition is being released, a 50-year-old man was taken to Hugh Chatham Hospital in Elkin after being bitten by a copperhead yesterday at the Raven Knob Scout Reservation, according to county Emergency Services Director John Shelton.
Officials at the camp declined to identify the victim, or disclose whether he is a local resident or visitor to the area.
While details are sketchy, Shelton said rescuers were called to the Raven Knob Boy Scout Camp at about 10 a.m., reporting the victim had been bitten by the venomous snake.
Boy Scouts were encamped at the location during the incident, according to workers at the camp.
County residents should keep an eye out for copperheads this time of year and give them a wide berth if one is found, according to Grover Barfield, chairman of the Carolina Reptile Rescue and Education Center.
“Copperheads are in every county in the state, and will coexist with humans better than other venomous snakes,” he said.
The copperhead, a pit viper, is the most common venomous snake in the state. It is one of six venomous snakes indigenous to North Carolina. Thirty-seven species of snake call the state home.
While the bite often won’t kill an adult, it’s a serious injury, Barfield said.
“The best thing people can do is learn the pattern and how to identify a venomous snake,” he noted. “That’s how a lot of people get bit is because they’re trying to kill what they think is a non-venomous snake and it’s a copperhead.”
Barfield’s son Zach, the president of the center, echoed his father’s advice.
“There are several ways to identify a venomous snake, but the most effective is the simple recognition of its pattern,” he said. “Each snake species, venomous and non-venomous, has its own unique pattern.”
The elder Barfield said a copperhead has a pattern on its back that would look like an hourglass if flattened out.
Another way to identify a venomous snake is by its body type, according to Zach Barfield.
“With the exception of the coral snake, the remaining five venomous snakes are relatively thick-bodied, giving them a more stout appearance,” he said.
In addition to the copperhead, North Carolina is home to the coral snake, the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the timber rattlesnake, the Pygmy rattlesnake and the cottonmouth moccasin.
For anyone who sees a snake they think might be venomous, the best course of action, according to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, is to walk away.
“Do not attempt to capture or kill it, as 70 to 80 percent of bites occur in this manner,” they note in a report on the state’s venomous snakes.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.