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Monday, May 28, 2012

Copperhead! Oh, %@!+*

Copperhead Snake
photo by
Good morning, All.  As I have told ya'll in the past.....we NEVER know what is going to happen around here from week to week.

If you are really squeamish about snakes today's blog post is not for you.  Hopefully, barring snake bites or any other unforeseeable circumstances, I will blog about that delicious summer vegetable soup and the plant Mullein in next week's post.

The snake that bit Ann was the same color as
the dirt and dried grasses.  It was almost
completely camouflaged!
photo by
Last night, our "down the road" friend and neighbor, Ann was bitten by a Copperhead.  Personally, I thought she handled the whole situation very calmly.  Yours truly would probably would have to be sedated upon arrival at the Emergency Room.

She followed the right procedure for snake bite.  She did not panic.  She killed the snake to take with her to the Emergency Room (now that is another story for a little later in the post!)  She called someone to assist her...we live 19 + miles from the nearest hospital.  She applied ice (controversial, I know).  Fortunately, my fella, L, was visiting and he drove US to the Emergency Room.  Well, we drove Ann to the ER....did I mention she handled this situation better than I would have!

Trans-Pecos Copperhead
Agkistrodon controtrix pictigasterphoto from
The only notable difference from the other
2 species is that this guy has an
elaborately patterned underbelly.
That's okay, I don't plan on asking him
to roll over so I can find out who his
people are.  Oh, that's a southern
thing.  We like to find out where you
belong in our world by asking you,
"Who'se your people?"
meaning relatives.
There are 3 species of Copperheads residing in Texas.  They are the Trans-Pecos Copperhead, the Broad-banded Copperhead, and the Southern Copperhead.  The Copperhead is a venomous pit-viper.

Back at the Emergency Room, Ann was treated quickly.  She was watched for about 2 hours, the areas above, below and on the bite were measured frequently.  Oh, so fortunately, the snake only got her with one fang and did not inject a full load of venom into her!

Let me tell you, if you get a full load of venom, then you will have to be injected with 4-5 viles of anti-venom.  At a whooping $8,000.00 a vile.  We swear this is what the doctor said.  And I googled cost of anti-venom, and some Arizona hospitals charge over $12,000 per vile.  Yikes!

Copperheads have the mildest venom of the poisonous snakes but in most years they bite more people.  (For some reason, I am not reassured!)  This is because the copperhead does not run (???  how about slither!) away when threatened.  It is thought that because of it's excellent camouflage, it lies still,

Broad-banded Copperhead
aka Texas Copperhead
Agkistrodon controtrix laticinctus

hoping to be undisturbed.  Most people and pets are bitten because they step on the snake.  That is what happened to Ann.  And the other day, the dogs and I were walking by the woods...and walked all over a Copperhead before one of the dogs smelled it.  Fortunately, it never offered to strike and we quickly left the area.

"Copperheads often employ a "warning bite" when stepped on or agitated and inject a relatively small amount of venom, if at all.  "Dry bites" involving no venom are particularly common with the copperhead, though all pit vipers are capable of a dry bite."  wikipedia

Southern Copperhead
Agkistrodon controtrix
Photo by

We did take the snake with us to the Emergency Room.  Actually, the snake was put in a garbage bag, I did mention that Ann had killed it.  Because, I am not sure I trusted the deadness (????) of said snake and it was in the back seat with me (Ugh!), I tied a really tight knot in the bag.  A hospital orderly came and took the snake from me. The nurse on duty wanted nothing to do with said snake, and voiced her thoughts loudly, "No snakes, No snakes in my area!"  Anyway, the orderly looked tentatively at the bag and said "Is the snake in here?"  Well, yeah!  I am not going to carry it around in my purse! Geesh (I didn't say that, but I have one of those open book faces, so he knew what I was thinking!)  Anyway, he had to cut the bag open because the knot was so tight he couldn't get it untied.  I told him "They told me it was dead, but that snake cannot be dead enough for me!"  (My apologies to all the snake lovers out there.)
Symphytum officinale

Copperhead snake bite symptoms:
Inflammation and skin infection
Swelling of the bitten body part
Severe vomiting and nausea

If not treated in a timely manner the venom can severely affect the bone tissue and body muscles.  Especially, when the bite is on the hand or foot.  If you are bitten on the hand or foot, remove any rings immediately!  There will be swelling!

There is a lot of information and mis-information out there about snake bites.  The main one!  Don't be like John Wayne in True Grit, never cut or suck the bite site!  NO! NO! NO!

You will hear to apply ice or not to apply ice.  There is recent information that applying ice could possible cause more damage.

The best way to handle this situation.....just like Ann did....get to the hospital immediately!  Now, I know there are a lot of experienced snake handlers and herbalists out there that self treat.  Well, most of us do not fall into that category.  Don't panic, but do seek help!  Copperhead bites are rarely fatal.

Every country girl needs a good pair of
heavy duty work boots and a FEARLESS protector.
After doing some late night research, these are the herbal treatments that seemed most popular for the care of the snake bite after the trip to the Emergency room:
1 dropperful of Echinacea tincture in a 4 oz. cup of water every 15 minutes,
plantain poultices
and comfrey or plantain salve.

I have the Echinacea tincture and am making a Comfrey salve.  The fresh Comfrey is in the oil brewing on the stove as I work on this post.  And you had better believe I wore my big green boots and took my walking stick to poke around every plant!

Well, enough for today.  Sure hope you are enjoying your Memorial Day weekend.  Be careful where you step and don't stick your hand in places where you cannot see!  There just might be a creepy crawler in there, that is as scared of you as you are of it.  Until next time, stay safe!  Herbally, Susan

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with her and not only will she not scold you, but she will make a fool of herself, too!

Samuel Butler, Higgledy-Piggledy 

Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day)
is observed on the last Monday in May.
Remembrance is symbolized by the
Red Poppy, an American wildflower.
painting from

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