Tennessee Girl, 3, Bitten by Venomous Snake Twice on Walk Home

A 3-year-old girl has been bitten twice by a venomous snake while walking back to her home in Tennessee.

The girl and her family were returning from a relative's house in Morgan County when the copperhead struck, reported local TV station KLTV.

The child, who was wearing sandals and walking through freshly cut grass, was bitten twice on the foot and then rushed to hospital.

Her family told KLTV that they had not noticed the venomous snake lurking in the grass until it was too late.

The girl was treated with antivenom and is still recovering a week and a half later. No other details about the girl's condition have been released.

The family, who declined to be named, told the news outlet that they hoped nobody else would have to go through a similar ordeal.

Copperhead snakes are a type of pit viper, native to eastern North America. They bite more people than any other snake found in the U.S. though their venom is relatively mild.

Fatalities are rare, but bites from a copperhead must still be treated immediately.

Copperhead
Stock photo of a copperhead snake. Copperheads like forested habitats and rocky landscapes with logs and leaf litter to hide under. JohnPitcher/Getty

A field biologist with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency told KLTV that, as a precaution, people should avoid walking through grass in open-toed shoes.

Dr. Joe Childs, chief medical officer at East Tennessee Children's Hospital in Knoxville, told the news outlet that it is best not to panic if bitten by a snake, because a slower heartbeat prevents the venom from spreading throughout the body at a rapid pace.

Antivenom can have side-effects including a rapid heart rate, fever, aches and wheezing. However it can be given to children on a case-by-case basis.

"With a child getting a full dose of a bite from a venomous snake, they can be more susceptible to a serious injury," Childs told KLTV.

Snake season is in full swing in Tennessee, meaning sightings and encounters are more common.

The season begins in early spring, when snakes become more active and start breeding. When temperatures soar, this can cause them to seek shelter, moving closer to suburban neighbourhoods.

The copperhead prefers forested habitats and rocky landscapes with logs and leaf litter to hide under.

The snakes are abundant in the state, although copperhead populations in central and western Tennessee are vulnerable because many are killed by humans, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.