LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA/WATE) — An off-duty officer, who also owns a reptile store captured a large venomous rattlesnake at a power plant in Florida Sunday.
Officers say a worker discovered the five-foot long Western Diamondback rattlesnake under a stairway at the plant. Officer Scott Wisneski used tongs to lift the snake into a container and took it to a venomous snake farm. The reptile will be used for creating anti-venom, officials say.
“She might be able to help save someone else’s life one day,” Wisneski says.
Wisneski owns Family Reptiles in Lakeland, Florida and has extensive experience with snakes and other exotic animals, according to officials.
“It’s not something you typically associate with the police department, but if we can assist we do,” Wisneski says.
He’s helped remove animals from homes and businesses in the past.
Venomous snakes in East Tennessee
Western diamond back rattlesnakes aren’t native to east Tennessee, but there are two different kinds of venomous snakes that are native: the copperhead and the timber rattlesnake.
While Western Diamondback rattlesnakes are generally large, with heavy bodies that average five feet long, Timber Rattlesnakes, by comparison, are smaller. They only average three to five feet and have much slimmer bodies.
Copperheads have dark colored cross bands that are for the most part shaped like an hourglass. Usually some of the cross bands are broken and do not connect. Usually some of the cross bands are broken and do not connect. They are most often misidentified as a harmless juvenile eastern rat snake, which has a strong pattern of gray or brown blotches on a pale gray background.
TWRA says cottonmouth snakes don’t live in East Tennessee and people commonly mistake them for a kind of water snake.
If you are bitten by a venomous snake, Vanderbilt Medical Center says you should remain calm. They say there is time to seek appropriate treatment and panicking only increases your heart rate, increasing the speed venom moves through your body.
Doctors say you should not try to extract the venom by sucking or cutting into the wound like you see in the movies. They say that can actually cause more damage. Also, don’t put a tournetiquette on the limb. This could make you lose a limb due to lack of blood flow.
- Call Tennessee Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222
- Remain calm and monitor symptoms so they can be described to medical professionals. Look for signs of swelling, pain beyond what would be expected from an animal bite and seemingly unstoppable bleeding and nausea or vomiting
- Once at a treatment facility, the bite will be evaluated for potential envenomation and infection