by Kevin Patrick Allen

It’s being called a byproduct of heavy rains in Missouri earlier this year – snake bites are on the rise.

The state is home to five types of venomous snakes: copperhead, water moccasin, timber rattler, pygmy rattler and massasauga rattler. The most common is the copperhead.

Julie Weber, director of the Missouri Poison Control Center, says the places that snakes prefer to live became flooded. “And they were seeking drier habitats and, unfortunately, kind of leaving more of the wooded areas and going up into yards and garages and driveways,” she says.

Forty-five snakebites were reported in the month of June. Eighteen of those bites were from copperheads. July is typically the busiest month for the poison center. Deaths from venomous snakebites in Missouri are very rare. Weber says she only knows of three that were reported over the course of many years.

Weber says one of the two most common ways that Missourians are bitten is entirely preventable. That’s when people try to grab or capture snakes. The other way that a lot of our incidents happen is when someone is hiking and they really just don’t see the snake and accidentally step on it,” she explains.

Weber recommends using a walking stick when hiking, wearing protective boots and making noise. If you are bitten, Weber says you should note the time of the bite, remove all clothing or jewelry from the affected area, call the poison control center, and proceed to the nearest hospital.

The Missouri Poison Control Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222.