PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) Last weekend Larry Messinger’s wife took her usual evening walk on Gayle’s Trails near the Harley Davidson entrance in Panama City Beach, but the walk would end with a trip to the hospital.
The Coral, Cottonmouth, and Pygmy snakes are some of the few venomous snakes in the area. (WJHG/WECP)
Messinger said, “she stepped off the trail without looking first, and if you have to step off the trail for any reason, you just have to look carefully at the ground first before you take that step.”
That’s when she was bitten by an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake.
“She had the presence of mind to take a picture with her cell phone and everyone was very thankful because it helped the emergency room immediately identify what they were dealing with,” said Messinger.
Kira Burdeshaw is a reptile curator at the Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida. She said, “this is the exact time of year that snakes are coming out because of the warmer weather and they’re going to be moving, especially during the day, regulating their temperature.”
Burdeshaw said there’s a little over 40 different kinds of species of snakes in this part of Florida, but only five or six of which are venomous.
“The one I’m holding is a gray rat snake, and this is a super common snake for our entire area,” said Burdeshaw.
She said other types of venomous snakes include the Coral, Copperhead, Cottonmouth, and Pygmy Rattlesnakes.
Burdeshaw said, “look out for dark, cool spots. Don’t put your feet or your hands anywhere where you can’t physically see with your eye.”
“They started construction of phase two of Bay Parkway, that has officially started, and there’s a lot of activity out there and its a possibility that wildlife migration patterns are changing,” said Messinger.
Although his wife is still in the hospital, she is expected to make a full recovery.
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