A copperhead snake was spotted on Grounds Wednesday near the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering building. Engineering graduate student Christina Pappas came across the snake around 8:30 a.m.
“It was curled up in the grass right next to the sidewalk that's outside of the building's loading bay,” Pappas said. “I thought that it looked a little unusual markings-wise, so I stepped back a bit and took some pictures with my phone.”
Pappas said she checked the markings against an Internet search for “baby copperhead” and then went to find Lewis Steva, the head technician for her machine shop, to dispose of the snake.
“After Lewis dispatched the snake, I sent an email with the details of the situation and the pictures I had taken to the senior administrative assistant in our department who then forwarded it to everyone in our department,” Pappas said.
Pappas is not the first to encounter a copperhead snake on Grounds this semester. Lisa Stanton, assistant to the associate dean in the Engineering School, found a baby copperhead a few weeks prior to Pappas' encounter.
Stanton was walking to her office when she passed Olsson hall to see several Facilities employees examining the sidewalk.
“It was a very small baby copperhead,” she said in an email. “It was dead, but it was a copperhead. They threw it in a dumpster and I called to try to notify Landscaping.”
According to a press release from the Blue Ridge Poison Center, there has been a 50 percent increase in the amount of reported copperhead snakebites since last year.
"It's been a really busy year both at the poison center and at the University of Virginia," said Dr. Nathan Charlton, a physician at the University’s Medical Center. "We've had about 16 patients that we've treated at the University of Virginia and then here at the poison center now just over 100 patients that we've seen."
Copperheads are just one of three venomous snakes in Virginia. They're relatively small, stretching only about 24-36 inches. Though they are poisonous, their bites are rarely fatal for humans.