Copperhead Snake Bite Reported at Lake Needwood

Man was bitten on foot while bringing canoe ashore


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Copperhead snakes can range in color from light tan to dark brown and blend in easily among rocks and leaf litter. They are found throughout Maryland.

Via U.S. National Park Service

A man was treated for a copperhead snake bite at a local hospital after he was bitten Monday near the shore of Lake Needwood in Rockville.

Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer said the emergency call was received around 8:30 p.m. Monday evening.

A man canoeing on the lake was coming ashore when he was bitten on the foot. The man, who was familiar with copperheads, took immediate precautions and was in good condition, Piringer said.

While Piringer said venomous snake bites are “rather rare” in Maryland, he said another bite was reported several weeks ago at Carderock Recreation Area. Piringer did not have more information about that incident.

Jonathan McKnight, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said there are about 75 snake bites reported each year in the state, including about 20 bites from copperheads, though exact figures were not available.

The copperhead is one of only two snakes present in Maryland that contain medically significant venom. The other is the timber rattlesnake.

Copperhead snakes have triangular flattened heads that are tan or coppery-red, with an hourglass pattern on their backs that range in color from pinkish tan to dark brown, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Their coloring allows them to easily blend in with rocks and leaf litter, particularly in rocky forested areas.

Copperheads can strike from half the distance of body length and can bite more than once. While copperhead venom is usually not fatal to humans, bites should be monitored and may require treatment by medical professionals. McKnight said often when venomous snakes strike, they do not deliver venom.

Generally speaking, if someone is bitten by a venomous snake, Piringer recommended that they immobilize the bite area; keep the wound lower than heart; stay calm to keep venom from pumping through the body; and seek medical help. Piringer recommended calling 911 rather than attempting to drive to the hospital. “You never know what might happen,” he said.

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