Georgia Department of Natural Resources

The death of an Armuchee man is shining a spotlight on the dangers of venomous snakes in Floyd County.

Ernest Burch, 80, of a Gazelle Dew Road address, died late Tuesday night at Redmond Regional Medical Center after succumbing to the effects of a rattlesnake bite he sustained at his residence.

Floyd County Deputy Coroner Ernie Studard said Burch arrived at the local hospital Monday around 5 p.m. after being bitten on the upper arm. He was pronounced dead while in intensive care Tuesday at 11:26 p.m.

Studard said he couldn’t think of another person in Floyd County who had died of snakebite in recent years.

David Gregory, a wildlife biologist in the Department of Natural Resources Region One Game Management office in Armuchee, said that while it may not have been the case with Burch, many snakebite victims are bit on the hands because they try to move them or see if they can touch them.

“It drives the message home not to mess with them,” Gregory said.

Reports are that Burch might have been bitten when he fell near the snake in his basement.

“If anybody is bitten by a venomous snake they should get to a hospital as quickly as possible,” Gregory said, adding that the old tale of sucking the venom out of a wound is not effective. “They don’t need to waste time.”

The two most common venomous snakes in Floyd County are copperheads and timber rattlesnakes, but Gregory said that even non-venomous snakes could be dangerous because of the amounts of bacteria that animals carry in their mouths.

“Snakes have lots of teeth and that leads to a lot of bacteria,” Gregory said. “If not treated and cleaned properly, it can get really badly infected.”

Mothballs can be used in outside areas as a snake repellant and glue boards sold to catch rodents can be placed along walls with rope or string attached to them in order to catch snakes inside.

Gregory said it is against the law to kill non-venomous snakes in Georgia.