Wildlife experts ask people to be aware following deadly snake bite


Wildlife experts are cautioning people about snakes after a deadly snake attack in Martin County.

A 76- year-old man died after he was bitten by a Diamondback Rattlesnake.

Wildlife experts say these fatalities are rare, but they say you can expect to see more snakes as the weather warms up. Now is the time, they say, to start being aware. But they say there's no need to panic.

Wildlife expert David Hitzig has worked for the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter for 30 years. He says south Florida has 4 venomous snakes, nearly 30 non-venomous, and a mix of both are on display at the sanctuary.

Amanda Miller takes her children to the sanctuary to learn about snakes. "She loves snakes, both of them do. Any kind of animal, they just get so excited," Miller said.

But she worries about the snakes coming too close to her kids in her backyard. "They're always picking up rocks and going into little areas that I get freaked out about that a snake is going to be in there," said Miller.

Hitzig says snakes can be found in all neighborhoods. "Sadly, a lot of times in people's backyards even in developed areas. Not so much in rural areas where you'd expect to find them," Hitzig said.

Diamondback Rattlesnakes are common, according to Hitzig, in the wildlife areas of the Abacoa neighborhood in Jupiter.

So what do you do if you see one of the four venomous snakes? Hitzig says keep your distance. Of the bites he has seen, someone got to close to the snake. "They were picking up the snake, they were handling the snake, or they were literally trying to kill the snake when the bite occurred," Hitzig explained.

He does say, however, if you are bitten by a snake, try to get a look at it to help doctors know how to treat you.

Hitzig says there are patterns you can look for to identify a snake, but many are hard to tell from a distance.

If you do see a snake you are concerned about, you can call police. Hartzig says you can also call the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary and someone can help you identify whether or not the snake is venomous. Reach them at 561-575-3399

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