BARTOW (FOX 13) - Rattlesnakes are native to Florida and they become more active when the weather warms up in spring and summer. In Polk County alone, there have been three rattlesnake encounters in the past weeks.
On March 29, firefighters came dangerously close to a rattler while battling a wildfire flare-up in Indian Lake Estates.
On April 4, a pit bull was bitten in the face in a Lake Wales neighborhood off of C.F. Kinney Road. The dog has received multiple antivenin treatments – which average $500 per dose.
Most recently, on Sunday, a man was bitten in the hand by a rattler at the River Ranch Campground.
Polk Fire Rescue says a man shot and killed a rattlesnake near a campsite. Then, thinking the snake was dead, he picked it up – but the snake bit him in the hand.
That victim had to be airlifted to Osceola Regional Hospital to receive treatment.
“You have to be extremely careful with wildlife. Leave snake handling to the professionals,” offered Battalion Chief Bobby Bohn. “We all know there are a lot of rattlesnakes in the River Ranch/Indian Lake Estates area. Just last month our crews were extinguishing a brush fire when one slithered by.”
Wildlife experts say if you come across a rattlesnake in the wild, just walk away slowly and calmly. If you have a rattlesnake near your home or property, stay away and call a trapper.