Venomous Copperhead Snake Bite Hospitalizes New Jersey Man Hiking After Dark

At first, 21-year-old college student Kevin Murray didn't realize he had been bitten by a venomous snake.

"At first I thought it was a bee or wasp sting because I had nothing else to relate it to," Murray told Newsweek. He had been wrapping up a sunset hike at Baldpate Mountain in Titusville, New Jersey, with two of his friends at the time of the incident last Thursday

"On the way back down it was dark so we were using our phones as flashlights but I guess I couldn't see too well," he said. "I felt a sharp sting on my left ankle about two minutes away from the car and fell down."

The college student soon spotted the snake "and put it all together."

"I don't know much about snakes," Murray told local news station WPVI-TV. "I just assumed it would be a garden snake or something that wasn't much of a problem."

Copperhead Snake
Kevin Murray thought he may have been stung by a wasp before spotting the venomous copperhead snake. Shown above is a close-up of a copperhead taken in 2008. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Upon seeing the 3- to 4-foot-long snake and texting a picture of it to his dad, Murray's friends drove him to a nearby New Jersey hospital to get the bite checked out, reported NJ.com. There, doctors confirmed to Murray that what he encountered was a copperhead.

Commonly found across the southern and eastern regions of the U.S., copperhead snakes are "responsible for more venomous snakebites than any other" in the country, according to National Geographic.

"Luckily," says the publication, copperhead "venom is not among the most potent, and bites are rarely deadly; children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are most at risk."

Copperheads mainly subsist on a diet of rodents and are known for their "bodies that range from tan to copper to gray, with characteristic hourglass-shaped stripes."

While copperhead bites are not usually deadly, they can still certainly be harmful: Murray spent three days in the hospital, including some time in the ICU.

"​​They brought me to the ICU to monitor my heart rate to make sure the venom wasn't spreading to my heart," he told WPVI-TV.

Thankfully, the venom didn't spread beyond Murray's leg, and anti-venom wasn't necessary for his treatment. He has since returned home, where he's recovering from the ordeal. "Besides a very intense sting in my leg, the only effect I had was that ankle was very swollen and still is that way," he told Newsweek.

"There's no long-term side effects they think are going to happen, so I got a great story out of it," he added.

If you're bitten, it's important to "try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake," as the species of snake can help determine the most effective treatment method, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's also essential to remain calm, as that "can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is venomous."

The CDC notes that someone who has been bitten should "lay or sit...down with the bite below the level of the heart" and seek immediate medical attention.