Snakebite 101: What to Do If You’re Bitten by a Venomous Snake in North Carolina

A copperhead snake looks up at the Nature Museum in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

By Sam Cohen

June 12, 2023

ASHEBORO—On June 8, a 5-year-old child was bitten by a copperhead snake at the North Carolina Zoo. Emergency crews treated the child on site, and the child is now recovering at an Asheboro hospital.

According to initial reports by Fox 8, snakes are commonly spotted outside the zoo. Speaking with the news outlet, Angela Jones cautioned parents to be alert and aware when entering the area, particularly with small children. “Be mindful … look under small places, even in your shoes. Baby snakes can be in your shoes. They can be anywhere,” she said.

Numerous signs indicating the presence of venomous snakes are found throughout the North Carolina Zoo urging people to keep their distance from the creatures.

NCWRC wildlife diversity biologists told Fox 8 that if North Carolinians come across a snake, they should give it plenty of room and remain calm. The biologists also said it’s important that people do not kill the snakes. 

North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission officials have asked people across the state to report certain types of snakes (typically those that are venomous) to the Commission. Sightings will likely increase now that the weather is getting warmer.

What to Do If You Are Bitten

If you do have a dangerous encounter with a venomous snake, try to get a picture of the snake that bit you, or your child, if you can. According to WCNC, a different child was bitten by a copperhead over Memorial Day weekend, and doctors at the hospital where the child was admitted said having a photo of the snake helped them save the child’s life.

By having a photo of the snake that bit the child, doctors were able to properly identify the specific type of snake it was, which therefore dictated their treatment plan.

Several species of venomous snakes are found in North Carolina, including:

  • Copperheads
  • Cottonmouths
  • Three different types of Rattlesnakes

If you’ve been bitten by a venomous snake, or you’re unsure as to whether the snake that bit you was venomous, seek medical attention and contact NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 right away. If you’re experiencing tightness in your chest or shortness of breath, call 911.

If you’re bitten by a snake and you don’t have cell phone service to call for help, The News & Observer recommends sending an SOS call through your phone, as most phones will allow you to send the message via satellite emergency communicators even if your data isn’t working.

For additional tips on the best practices to observe if you’re bitten by a rattlesnake and you don’t have cell phone service, read The News & Observer’s complete overview

For more detailed information on where copperhead snakes are found in North Carolina and why they typically bite people, click here.

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