Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Snakebite reports are up in S.C. and increased flooding and development could be to blame

Plagues descend on the Holy City

Posted by Sam Spence on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 2:49 PM

click to enlarge Copperheads are usually secretive and are rarely encountered by humans - FLICKR USER NAKRNSM
  • Flickr user nakrnsm
  • Copperheads are usually secretive and are rarely encountered by humans
More people are being bitten by snakes in S.C. and experts say the increase could be due to flooding and continued development altering habitats.

The state poison center says it has seen a 30 percent increase in the number of snakebite calls already this year compared to last year. That's after another 33 percent increase in bites during 2016 compared to 2015.

The possible causes of more snake-human interactions are many, but mild winters combined with increased flooding and ongoing development could have something to do with it.

The Myrtle Beach Sun News talked to a man who calls himself "The Snake Chaser" who says that flooding over the past two years in the fall has stranded snakes on higher ground just as they're about to slow down for the winter. That leads to more unexpected encounters when snakes are again active when temps begin to rise in the spring.

One Coastal Carolina researcher also says that advancing development is also a culprit for pushing snakes out of their natural habitats.

Prof. Scott Parker: "It’s likely that a combination of all of these factors might produce a 'perfect storm' to explain the increased frequency of snakebite."

Poison center officials remind S.C. residents that the only treatment for a poisonous snakebite is to visit the hospital. The 24/7 number for the Palmetto Poison Center, which can provide guidance in case of a possible poisoning, is 1-800-222-1222.

So, regardless of climate trends, more flooding and more building means more snakes around us. If flooding and snakes aren't enough to make you raise an eyebrow, I don't really have much sympathy for you. But for starters, climate shifts have also driven destructive invasive ants closer and projections show that as little as an inch of sea level rise could dramatically affect our Holy City.

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