MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Warm weather naturally draw us humans to the outdoors, but it’s also the time of year when snakes become active.

At least two Shelby County residents have already felt the copperhead’s bite this season. There are four venomous snakes in Tennessee, and the copperhead is the most frequently encountered.

Most recently, an 18-year-old was walking through his backyard in Northaven when he came across a 27- or 28-inch female copperhead.

The teen’s aunt said he put the snake in a bucket and intended to make it a pet. But the relationship took a wrong turn when he tried to pick it up.

“When he came back he had this red bucket in his hand, and I asked him what it was and he said, ‘I got a snake.'” she said. “It wiggled around like it was going to bite him, so he dropped it and caught it before it hit the ground. He caught it by the tail and she come around and bit him in his index finger on his left hand.”

She knew the snake was a copperhead when she called 911. By the time EMTs arrived, the snake’s venom had started taking hold.

“It was all swollen up and white, and his finger was about that big around when he went to the hospital,” she said.

Fortunately the 18-year-old spent only a few hours in the hospital.

That was not the case for a Midtown woman who was bitten while walking a trail in Overton Park recently.

Brit McDaniel says, at first, she thought she’d stepped on a sharp piece of metal but quickly realized it was a copperhead.

“I just was walking in the park with my dog and had moved aside to let someone pass, and must have just stepped right next to the snake and got a bite,” McDaniel said. “My whole leg was swollen, a lot of pain, and I ended up with a little bit of infection too. Once I was released I had a two-week recovery.”

Some hikers in Overton Park on Tuesday said it doesn’t hurt to be extra cautious this time of year.

“Make sure you keep and eye out,” Adam Marbry of Memphis warned. “Just make sure you don’t step anywhere that you don’t know where you’re stepping.”

Watch out for venomous snakes

  • Copperheads in Tennessee tend to be most active at dawn and dusk during the warmer seasons between April and October.
  • If you are hiking or walking, be sure to look carefully where you place your hands and feet.
  • If you are bitten by a snake, REMAIN CALM AND GET MEDICAL HELP AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. 
  • You can learn more about snakes in Tennessee by visiting the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency website.