Man bitten by copperhead snake at Lake Needwood

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A Montgomery County man had to be hospitalized overnight after he was bitten by a venomous snake at Lake Needwood in Rockville.

Jimmy Hemmig said he was fishing with friends Monday night when he encountered the copperhead snake.

"We decided to call it a night because it got dark, and so I turned on my flashlight and started walking down the path," Hemmig said. "And all of a sudden, I felt something stab my foot. And I thought I hooked myself with one of my rods. But when I fell down, I was probably like a foot away from a copperhead, who is not looking too happy with me."

He said the bite felt like getting stabbed with a thumbtack.

"I guess exactly how you would think a half-inch-long fang going into your leg would feel like," said Hemmig.

Photos from the hospital show his swollen foot and the fang marks from the snake.

"I got to the hospital pretty quick and got anti-venom in probably like an hour or two," he said.

He said after he was in the ambulance, his friends went back to retrieve his belongings and snapped a photo of the snake.

There have been plenty of snake encounters lately around the D.C. region. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer said this is the second venomous copperhead bite in recent weeks in Montgomery County. The last one was at Carderock Recreation Area.

Last month in Virginia, a woman driving in Fauquier County was greeted by a snake that slithered out of her car air vent.

Virginia Wildlife Management and Control blames the weather, saying the warm spells in the winter and all the rain in the spring have snakes more active.

However, Jonathan McKnight, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said he hasn't seen evidence that there has been an increase in the number of snakes in the region. He said there are an average of 75 snake bites in Maryland each year, and the only venomous snake around the D.C. region is the copperhead. He said snakes don't want to interact with people and only bite when they feel threatened.

Hemmig said he hopes his story doesn't cause people to hurt or disturb snakes. His advice is to watch where you are walking

"I love snakes. I still do. I have had pet snakes as a kid," he said. "They are very cool to see when they are not biting you."

Hemmig, who is a volunteer firefighter, was released from the hospital Tuesday evening and said doctors told him his foot should be back to normal in about a week.