All Janet Furman felt at first was a sharp pang in her right foot. But when she saw the pair of holes in her pinky toe, and the blood running out on her flip-flops, she knew she'd met a copperhead - venomous scourge of North Carolina.
The state ranked No. 1 nationwide for copperhead bites last year with 228. Most came in urban counties, where subdivisions brush against woods and creeks. More than 20 percent of the snake attacks happened in Wake County, which tops the state's list.
The adaptable copperhead often seeks shelter in wood piles or overgrown shrubs. It strikes victims in the middle of ordinary outdoor chores: weeding the garden, feeding the cat or, like Furman, walking the dog in a pair of sandals.
"I'm on crutches," said Furman, 58, who spent 36 hours in intensive care after the July 16 bite in Chapel Hill. "I think I'm going to buy some steel-toed boots."
Though rarely fatal, a copperhead bite can lead to an amputated hand or foot. It can also spell months of rehabilitation.
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