More snakebites reported in Arkansas, learn which species are venomous

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CROSS COUNTY, Ark. -- If you live in Arkansas and like to spend time outdoors, you might be seeing more snakes slithering about.

This is the time of the year snakes are giving birth, so there are more around. There's already been a reported increase in snakebites among young children this year.

The Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock typically sees 20 to 25 snake bites a year, but officials said so far this year, they've already treated 30 snakebite cases.

Visitors at Village Creek State Park in Cross County have the opportunity to learn about the types of venomous and non-venomous snakes they might see while camping or hiking there.

Interpreter Heather Runyan said, while snakes are some of the most misunderstood creatures, it's best to have a healthy respect for whatever may be slithering across their path.

"People have this view of these evil snakes waiting to get them, which is not even close to what's going on out there," said Runyan.

Few people make it their jobs to know snakes as well as Runyan does.

She said no snakebites have been reported at Village Creek State Park this summer, but there are more reported sightings, especially during early morning and late afternoon.

"This summer has been exceptionally nice, weather wise. People are getting out more, the snakes are getting out more, because they're not having to retreat during the hottest part of the day as much. So it could just be extra opportunity," said Runyan.

There are six venomous snakes that call Arkansas their home: the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Timber Rattlesnake, the Western Pigmy Rattlesnake, the Texas Coral Snake, the copperhead, and the cottonmouth.

Runyan said the best thing is to be able to quickly identify snakes, and know which ones are dangerous and which aren't.

One example is the Speckled Kingsnake.

"It's an extremely common, non-venomous species here in Arkansas. Kingsnakes are snake eaters and they're especially known for eating venomous snakes," said Runyan.

Larry Brown, who runs the boat rental at Village Creek State Park, recently had a close call with a cottonmouth.

"One time I was fishing,  walking through woods, and I saw a Cottonmouth right near my foot. So that's when I decided to break a limb off a tree.  And we heard the crack of the limb, he began to ease on away," said Brown.

If you or someone with you is bitten by a snake, you should immediately go to the closest hospital.

Don't try to catch or kill the snake, but if you have a cellphone or camera, take a picture of the snake if possible, so hospital emergency staff will know how best to treat the bite.

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