Snake expert weighs in on Goose Creek boy's condition

By Nikki

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)A rattlesnake expert with the Aquarium in downtown Charleston says the type that bit Zach Szalas, 8, of Goose Creek recently is the second largest in the southeast.

"They can get up to five or six feet long in the wild," stated biologist, Eric Fann.

What was supposed to be a fun day at Wannamaker County Park the day before Thanksgiving turned out to be just the opposite for Ansley Crabtree and her nephew, Zach Szalas.

"The boys were standing on a dead tree that had fallen. What happened was Zach stepped over it and I believe at that time he stepped on top of the snake."

That snake, a Timber Rattler, bit Szalas twice on the leg.

"I wasn't thinking that I had to worry about a snake in November. If it were summertime, I would have never let them go into the woods," stated Crabtree.

Fann says snakes may not fully hibernate until as late as January.

"These snakes can potentially be dangerous," stated Fann. "That snake may have been just hanging out for its last meal of the summer or fall before it goes into hibernation."

Szalas currently lies in a hospital bed at MUSC unable to breathe on his own or move his face.

"His kidneys are working well. His liver numbers are coming up. His leg is doing well," stated Crabtree.

Fann stated that the poison released is unique to every snake.

"Every snake has its own little unique cocktail," stated Fann. "The Timber Rattlesnake's poison generally affects the circulatory system."

According to Fann, the odds of surviving a poisonous snake bit are actually quite good.

"Out of 7,000 bites generally here in the U.S. annually, less than ten of those people die per year," stated Fann.

Even though the snake left Szalas in serious condition, Fann says these reptiles are not bad creatures.

"They're not evil animals. They're not out to hurt us. They would prefer us not to be around," stated Fann.