Snake Bites Arborist

Don't get too comfortable in your Georgia back yard, because there are sometimes snakes afoot...or a-hand. A professional arborist in Atlanta was the victim of a venomous snake attack, apparently when the reptile became defensive as it was backed into corner at the base of a tree.

The incident occurred in suburban Sandy Springs, a large city just north of Atlanta. It was on a mature residential half-acre lot. The back yard was covered in ivy and blackberry bushes, which make great cover for all sorts of fauna.
The arborist was pulling thick ivy off the base of a large Tulip poplar when he was bitten. The snake sunk its teeth into the knuckle of his hand, and was able to dispense enough venom to make a nasty time of it. The arborist kept his wits about him, and was able to capture the snake and give him a complimentary ride to the hospital.

The snake was initially believed to be a rattlesnake, but after recovery, the arborist positively identified it as a copperhead. Copperhead bites are awfully painful, but rarely fatal to a healthy human. In fact, copperheads have the honor of scoring the most human bites of any eastern US snake, even more than rattlesnakes. The anti-venom for copperheads is the same as for rattlesnakes, so positive ID may be helpful but not necessary.

After his one-day stay in the hospital, the stricken arborist had this advice to give when messing around at the bottom of a tree or in ivy: "Be aware of your surroundings...and wear gloves. Not regular work gloves, but something with kevlar."

Unfortunately, the copperhead did not survive captivity.


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