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Lowell teen bitten by copperhead on local trail

Copperheads occupy a variety of habitats from floodplains to ridge tops, and show a marked preference for the rocky, wooded hillsides of southeastern Ohio. (Photo by Ohio Department of Natural Resources)

MARIETTA — While one family fights to eradicate the venom from their child’s system in Columbus, local advice is to be on the lookout.

“It would be much better to prevent this than go through this ordeal again,” said Pamela Lankford, of Lowell, as she sat in Nationwide Hospital in Columbus with her 16-year-old daughter Gretchen.

Gretchen sustained a copperhead snake bite Monday at 4 p.m.

By 10 p.m. Monday, she was in Columbus.

“We went to Memorial at first, and they were hoping it was a dry bite, without venom, because originally there wasn’t any swelling,” said Pamela. “But then a couple hours later, the swelling began, and the pain was excruciating. We got to Nationwide and they started giving her anti-venom. They said it must have been a lot of venom, and it spreads and affects the blood system.”

Gretchen was hiking with cousins in the Broughton Nature Trails just outside of Marietta when she was bitten. “Her grandfather contacted me and let me know where it happened,” said George Broughton. “I’ve lived on this farm all my life but haven’t had anyone bit until this weekend. We wanted to get the word out too, so people watch where they’re walking and know these snakes are out there and don’t like human contact.”

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, copperheads are one of three venomous snakes found in Ohio and copperheads are the most numerous and most frequently encountered venomous snake. Their young are hatched between August and mid-September.

“We want to remind people that our trails are not city parks, this is a wildlife refuge, too,” said Broughton. “We have coyotes, and bobcats and water snakes, and while we keep the cross-country route and the multi-use trail mowed to keep down ticks, up in our wooded areas those single tracks can cross paths with animals.”

ODNR reports that the snakes are most active between April and October and switch as the days cool off from nocturnal to diurnal.

“We have learned so much from this and will still be up here, the doctors say at least a few more days,” said Pamela. “I think Gretchen’s most upset to be missing soccer right now since the venom can thin the blood and she won’t be cleared for a while to play contact sports until her levels rise.”

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com

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Copperheads

* Copperheads have bitten more people in the United States than any other venomous snake.

* The bite is rarely fatal.

* However, it is extremely painful, and, like a honeybee sting, has the potential to produce a life-threatening allergic reaction.

* Copperheads show a preference for the rocky, wooded hillsides of southeastern Ohio.

* They are not as opposed to civilization as the timber rattlesnake, but copperheads tend to stay away from well-settled areas.

* Their coloration serves as camouflage.

Source: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

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