FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- A Virginia high school rowing coach took home an unintended and pain-inducing souvenir from South Carolina a canebrake rattlesnake.
The foot-long snake apparently crawled into Andy Bacas' video camera bag when it was left outside briefly last week in Clarendon County. Back home on Monday, Bacas reached into his bag, felt a sharp pain, discovered the young reptile and quickly closed the case.
Bacas spent Monday night in Innova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church for treatment of the snake bite. Arlington School District officials said Bacas was released late Tuesday.
The Yorktown High School crew team, which Bacas helps coach, spent spring break at Camp Bob Cooper on Lake Marion. The facility, operated by the Clemson Extension Service's Youth Learning Center, attracts rowing teams from across the country for spring training. The rowers stay in cabins, row on Lake Marion, and eat in the camp dining hall.
"When you know you're coming to a rustic atmosphere, you expect to see some wildlife," said Pam Bryant, spokeswoman for the facility.
She expressed concern for Bacas and has been in contact with the school.
Canebrakes, also known as timber rattlers, are a venomous species that lives throughout South Carolina but are rare in Virginia. Like most snakes, they try to avoid people. They often remain tightly coiled or stretched out without moving when humans come near, according to snake experts.
Scott Pfaff, curator of herpetology at Riverbanks Zoo, doubts a canebrake would slither into a video bag on its own because they generally avoid anything that smells like people.