From Knox News:
The days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler and snakes are getting ready to start slithering around Tennessee.
While you might be under the impression that all types of wildlife give birth in the spring, state officials say that mid-October until November marks baby copperhead snake season.
The Tennessee Valley Authority typically issues a warning in the second week of October, posting, “It is baby copperhead snake season. If you are hiking or walking, be sure to look carefully where you step or place your hands. Baby copperheads are small and like to hang out in damp places like logs on the trail or flowerpots in your yard. Look for the yellow/green tail tip as an additional way to spot them. Let’s respect their boundaries and co-exist safely!”
According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, young copperheads “wiggle the bright yellow tip of their tail to lure prey within striking distance, a behavior known as caudal luring.”
A female copperhead can give birth to more than 20 babies
Copperheads are typically born between August and October, and mother copperheads give birth to between one and 21 baby snakes during this time.
Adult copperheads usually measure 24-36 inches in length and eat mice, small birds, lizards, snakes, amphibians and insects. In most of its range the copperhead favors deciduous forest and mixed woodlands. They are often associated with rock outcroppings and ledges.
How can you avoid getting bitten by a baby copperhead?
Copperheads have a pair of fangs that inject venom when they bite, and even newborn copperheads can give a venomous bite, as they are fully as venomous as the adults when born, according to Snakes of Tennessee. Here are some best practices to stay safe on the trail:
- Keep a sharp eye open for snakes while outside.
- Watch where you step (especially when wearing sandals or flip-flops).
- Avoid reaching into weeds or bushes.
- Keep a close watch on nosy dogs who might poke their snouts into spots where copperheads like to rest.
- If you see one, leave it alone.
What should you do if you’re bitten by a copperhead?
Copperhead bites are the most common of the venomous snake bites, probably due to the copperhead’s wide range. Left untreated, a venomous bite can be very damaging. One bit of good news: Very few deaths occur as a result of copperhead strikes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following measures:
- Call 911. Driving oneself to the hospital is not advised because people with snakebites can become dizzy or pass out.
- Take a photograph of the snake from a safe distance if possible; identifying the snake can help with treatment.
- Keep calm.
- Lay or sit down with the bite in a neutral position of comfort.
- Remove rings and watches before swelling starts.
- Do not apply a tourniquet.
- Do not slash the wound with a knife or cut it in any way.
- Do not try to suck out the venom.
Liz Kellar is a Tennessee Connect reporter. Email [email protected].