Hurricane Florence could displace venomous snakes from South Carolina’s wetlands – and send them slithering down local streets, local zoo officials are warning.
The monster storm may uproot some 38 species of snakes – including dangerous cottonmouths and copperhead vipers – from their coastal habitats, Thad Bowman of the Alligator Adventure zoo in Myrtle Beach told the Sun News in S.C.
“They inject venom, which causes tissue destruction, platelet loss, causes bleeding, it can cause death,” said Gerald O’Malley, with Grand Street Hospital.
Residents shouldn’t be out during the storm, but if they are, and get bitten by a snake, they should rush to a hospital that isn’t closed. Many medical facilities in the area will be shut down, but the Conway Medical Center is still open, the paper reported.
Horry County officials are asking people not to call 911 unless it’s serious. A bite from a cottonmouth, for example, would count as an emergency.
Wayward snakes are common during devastating storms.
“They can be found swimming in water or hiding under debris and they should be avoided,” Accuweather warned.
After Hurricane Harvey passed over Houston, Texas, in September 2017, people found snakes, fire ants and even alligators in their homes.
All three of those animals are also native to the Carolinas, which lie in Florence’s path.
Bowman said the zoo is doing everything to keep their animals safe during the storm. The zoo boasts seven different species of snakes, including a boa constrictor, and multiple types of alligators.