Holyoke hiker captures venomous copperhead snake that bit him; turns snake over to authorities

A hiker in western Massachusetts was bitten by a venomous snake Saturday evening, then caught the snake and brought it to authorities, according to Holyoke Police.

The man was bitten on his leg by a copperhead at Mount Tom State Reservation in Holyoke just after 5 p.m. Saturday, said Holyoke Police Lieutenant Larry Cournoyer.

After being bitten, the man “collected the snake and carried it down from where he was walking’’ so Animal Control authorities could identify it, Cournoyer said.

After the snake was identified as a copperhead, the hiker was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where he was treated with the appropriate anti-venom, Cournoyer said.

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Police do not know the man’s age or where he lives.

Although copperhead snakes are indigenous to the area, Cournoyer said local reports of copperhead bites are rare, adding that he could not recall any similar incidents in his 25 years as a police officer.

“It was cold last night, and snakes aren’t quite as active when they’re colder, so I’m assuming he stepped on the snake, which is easy to do in the woods due to the camouflaging nature of the snake,’’ Cournoyer said.

However, Cournoyer said capturing the snake, which put the hiker in danger of being bitten again, was a bad idea.

“You can use your cellphone and photograph the reptile so you don’t risk injury by messing with snakes,’’ Cournoyer said.

He said that copperhead venom is not typically fatal, especially with easy access to hospitals and anti-venoms, but said that the hiker could have become increasingly sick if he had not been treated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, with about five cases turning fatal.

Symptoms of venomous bites include pain and swelling at the wound, nausea and vomiting, labored breathing, blurred vision, increased salivation and sweating, and tingling or numbness in the face and limbs.

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