PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. -- A Bostwick man is in critical condition after a rattlesnake bit him Tuesday afternoon in Putnam County, authorities say.

Putnam County Fire Rescue responded to Airport Estates Road after getting a call about the snakebite around 4:30 p.m., says a fire rescue captain.

The man was conscious but had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital in critical condition.

"He was bit in the tongue," one witness told 11Alive sister station First Coast News. "He was handling it. It was calm. He was drinking a little bit, was holding the snake, went to like kiss it, and it bit him."

Authorities believe the snake is an eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

"They're going to try to eat as much as they can. this is the time of the year they're growing they're shedding they're traveling and mating," said a professional snake trapper.

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According to snake experts, snake bites are on the rise in the southeastern U.S. thanks to the mild winter. If you are bitten by a snake, experts said it's important to get to a hospital.