A frightened mum is urging others to educate their children about the dangers of wildlife after her 15-year-old daughter made a “stupid” and potentially fatal mistake while hanging out with friends.
Ashley Spain said the teen was recently walking near a beach when she saw what she thought was a Garter snake on the footpath. “What she picked up was actually a juvenile Copperhead,” she posted on Facebook post over the weekend.
A photo shows the young student holding the venomous serpent in her arms while looking at it adoringly. Just moments after the image was taken, the snake struck, causing her arm to balloon. The teen was rushed to hospital, where she was given anti-venom within an hour of the bite, Ms Spain said.
“Please make sure your children are aware that even though nature is beautiful, it can be very dangerous,” she added. “She’s learning a very hard lesson on when to just leave things as they are. Don’t let your kids be like mine.”
Additional images published by the worried mum show the 15-year-old scrunching her face in pain after being admitted into hospital, and a close-up view of the holes left by the snake’s fangs on her swollen wrist.
Critics slam teen's snake act
Ms Spain’s Facebook post has since attracted a lot of attention from critics who argued her daughter should have recognised the snake was a Copperhead as the species is common in the US state of Virginia where they live.
The barrage of messages prompted Ms Spain and her husband to respond in defence of their daughter’s “understandable lapse in judgement”.
“She has always been taught to admire wild animals from a distance, but we as her parents understand that she is 15 and won’t always make the best choices,” she hit back. “She has never seen a venomous snake in person up to this point. Stop acting like you were never a teenager that did stupid things.”
Teen still in 'some pain' after snake bite
The young girl returned home from the hospital on Saturday (local time) and is doing well overall despite “still some pain”.
“She appreciates all of the kind words and thoughts!” Ms Spain said in an updated post. “We hope this message reaches those around our area to keep other children, teens, and young adults safe. If you are unsure, leave it be!”
While Copperhead snakes are responsible for more venomous snakebites than any other in the US, according to the National Geographic, they are very rarely fatal, with only a handful of deaths reported over the last 100 years.
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