Girl, 11, recovering after pygmy rattlesnake bite

An 11-year-old Florida girl is recovering after being bitten on the foot by a venomous snake during a holiday weekend camping trip.

Kelly Bajek said her family was camping at Blue Spring State Park on Sunday night, when daughter Abigail was walking down a trail to the spring. That’s when Kelly said Abigail yelled out that a snake bit her.

Abigail’s mother snapped a picture of a small pygmy rattlesnake slithering away from her daughter, who hadn’t even seen the snake before being bitten on the foot. The family called 911 and said they used the picture to help identify the snake to park rangers and paramedics.

County firefighters said the call came in just after 6 p.m. for the snakebite at the park campground.

As of Monday, Abigail was at an Orlando-area children’s hospital in intensive care, where fthe amily said she was on her fourth treatment of anti-venom.  She is swollen but recovering and doing well.

Kelly said Monday morning that their family has been going to Blue Spring for years, has lived in Florida for longer, and never encountered a venomous snake before.

Local snake trapper Bob Cross said the pygmy rattlesnake can be tough to spot, because of its small size. He said some of the largest pygmies only reach about two feet in length, when stretched out.

"Pygmy rattlesnakes, even though they have the rattles, you cannot hear them prior to the bite,” said Cross, showing the relatively small rattler on a stuffed pygmy.

Cross said unlike the larger Diamondback rattlesnake, the pygmy’s small size also makes their venom much less potent. He said, for an adult, the bite may just be painful and only require a short checkout at the hospital.  However, for a child, he said the bite can be more severe.

"Its body mass, versus venom,” said Cross. "The younger the child, the more serious the bite."

Cross said pygmy rattlesnakes also tend to favor dryer conditions, like Central Florida is in right now; though they tend to stay in less populated parts of the area. He warns Floridians that venomous snakes should always be a concern, and people need to be cautious when reaching under bushes or working around brush.

If bitten by a snake, experts say to call 911.