The Snake Chaser: Drought, development are causes of the record number of snake bites this year

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – The Palmetto Poison Center at the University of South Carolina in Columbia tells News13 they’ve seen a record number of snake bites this year. The Snake Chaser, Russell Cavender, says the increase in developments, and the recent drought could be factors as to why you’re seeing more snakes and bites.

“This is the most deadly snake we have in our area, next to the coral snake, but you’re not going to see a lot of those,” said Cavender, pulling a canebrake rattlesnake out of a barrel.

“There’s enough venom in there to kill ten people,” he points out.

It’s one of the common area snakes that’s contributed to the 278 record number of bites the Palmetto Poison Center is reporting this year. Snake chaser Russell Cavender remembers his experience as a snake bite victim a few years back.

“It was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve had my share of broken bones, and bruises, and you know, knicks and knacks and all that kind of thing,” he recalls.

He was bitten by a copperhead, South Carolina’s most common venomous snake.

“He bit me as I lifted the wood, and I literally injected the venom into my finger,” said Cavender, describing the moment.

Cavender says there’s two main reasons for more snakes slithering along the Grand Strand, and the first are developments.

“We’re building so many homes. You know, South Carolina is growing, so is Horry County,” said Cavender. “The more homes you build, the less land they have. The more land you clear, the less places they have to be.”

He says the second reason for more snakes and snake bites is the recent drought the area has had.

“The less water there is, the more water they have to seek out, and a home actually supplies that,” he said.

There is anti-venom for these snake bites called CroFab, but Cavender says it comes at a high price. “Anywhere from $9,000 to $11,000 per vial.”

Cavender says if you find a snake in or around your home, give him a call and he’ll come pick it up safely.

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