ATLANTA — An evening playing outside with his sister turned into a life-threatening situation for a local 6-year-old boy.
"We just finished dinner, and we heard a lot of screaming and chaos outside and ran outside," Andrea Childers told 11Alive.
Zander and his sister were outside playing basketball when a loose ball disturbed a hidden visitor.
"And then Zander started screaming that he got bit by the snake," Childers said. "We initially, my husband and I, were like, there's no way there's no way... he just panicked."
But Zander's parents sprung into action when they saw the bite on his arm, calling 911 where Zander was rushed to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Doctors confirmed Zander was bitten by a copperhead, and he spent two days in the hospital getting treatment.
"I felt like a bunch of baby crocodiles were biting me," he explained.
"Snakes can be found year-round in most of Georgia, even in fall and winter," Daniel Sollenberger, a senior wildlife biologist with Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section said.
"A few mild sunny days during the otherwise cooler months can cause many snakes to become active again, and for some species in south Georgia the best time to observe them is actually during the next few months to come."
He said colder weather does tend to lead to less snake activity, but be careful when it starts to warm up.
"In general, though, cold nights and dreary winter days do tend to lead to less snake activity and fewer sighting for most Georgians," Sollenberger said. "As in warmer times, though, be cautious when gardening or doing other outdoor chores around the homestead and watch where you put your hands and feet."
Most of Georgia's snakes are completely harmless and beneficial to have around the home, and are protected by Georgia law. Sollenberger said encounters with venomous snakes are rare and most can be avoided with some precautions.
Dr. Maneesha Agarwal, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta said that there are ways to protect your child when they go outside.
"Make sure they're wearing long pants, that they're wearing closed toed shoes, and that they're supervised at all times."
If someone is bitten, doctors say there's no time to waste and advise calling 911 for help.
"Some of the snake bites out there can be venomous, and time is really of the essence," Dr. Agarwal said.
She said most kids respond well to treatment, and that includes Zander, who is back to feeling like his normal self.
"It feels like my normal arm," he said. "You can't even see it."
To prevent snake bites, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta recommends the following tips:
- Always wear closed-toe shoes when on walks and hikes and avoid tall weeds and brush.
- Teach kids to respect wildlife and to leave snakes alone.
- Supervise kids and pets outside.
- Clear areas where children play of debris, rocks and other debris.
Learn more here.