Steve Glassinger had seen snakes before around his 40 acres between Weatherford and Brock, but wasn’t overly concerned.
To Glassinger, 40, snakes are just part of living in rural Parker County.
But he let his guard down Tuesday night as he went outside to turn off his sprinklers.
Lurking in the dark just off his driveway were two copperhead snakes. He was wearing flip-flops and as he stepped onto a stone path the venomous snakes bit him.
“It was almost like a shock, a vibration, then I felt something slither away,” Glassinger said.
When he looked down, he had prick marks that were bleeding on his left foot and ankle. In disbelief, he hurried inside and summoned his father-in-law.
“I was shocked when I saw four individual pair of bites because of how fast it happened,” Glassinger said. “I told my father-in-law I had been bit and we were off to the hospital.”
He would spend most of the night at Texas Health Willow Park before being transferred to Texas Health Fort Worth, where snake bites are regularly treated. Doctors were able to confirm that he was bitten by two different snakes because of the size of the puncture wounds.
Snake bites on the rise
Because of two years of wet weather and a mild winter, snake season started early this year, said Dr. David Smith, a trauma surgeon at Texas Health Fort Worth.
The first snakebite case was seen in March and 20 have been seen so far this year. The record number of patients with snake bites for the Fort Worth hospital was 28 in 2014.
“I’m fairly confident we’re going to get beyond that number this year,” Smith said.
As a Level II trauma center, Texas Health Fort Worth gets most of its snakebite cases from areas west of Fort Worth, where encounters with the reptiles are more common.
John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth has seen eight snakebite cases this year compared to nine all of last year. Cook Children’s Medical Center has seen nine snakebite cases this year.
The common-sense advice for avoiding snakebites is wearing boots and carrying a flash light if it’s at dusk or nighttime. Smith also said people shouldn’t reach into dark spaces under or inside a house. Individuals should also avoid reaching for an item in the tall grass.
“What you need to wear is what everybody wears in Texas — cowboy boots,” Smith said.
Feels like ‘it’s going to explode’
By Wednesday afternoon, Glassinger had already been given six vials of the anti-venom CroFab and could get more if the snakes’ venom creeps higher up his leg. He will likely be in the hospital for another two to three days but should make a full recovery.
Even with treatment at the hospital, Glassinger said the pain isn’t going away.
“It feels like it is past the pressure point and that it’s going to explode,” Glassinger said. “It doesn’t stop. It’s constant all of the time.”
But Glassinger, who vows to be more vigilant, is keeping his sense of humor.
When asked if he plans to hire a snake wrangler to remove the reptiles, Glassinger vowed to handle it himself.
“It’s going to be daddy going out there with a shotgun and we’ll try to take care of it ourselves,” Glassinger said.
But he admits he has developed a healthy fear of the creatures. As he talked about stories of snakes getting into houses through air-conditioning ducts and nesting in attics, Glassinger shuddered at the idea of encountering one in his home.
“If I saw a snake come down from the ceiling, I would be in church and in a different city,” Glassinger said. “I don’t think my psyche could handle that. It would be too much.”
To keep your yard free from copperheads and other snakes, owners should eliminate anything that attracts rodents. That means:
Clean up your yard. Don’t leave buckets, log piles and other clutter lying around.
Empty and clean pets’ outdoor food bowls daily.
Be watchful around dusk and after dark, especially the hotter it gets outside.
If you see a venomous snake in your yard, get your children and pets to a safe place inside and contact your city’s animal control department.
If you stumble upon the disembodied head of a venomous snake, stay away. It can still bite because its slow metabolism makes for a slow death.
Source: Star-Telegram research