Girl recovering from snake bite at Shelby Township's Stony Creek Metropark

Detroit Zoo reptile curator says baby massasauga rattlesnakes can deliver more venom than adults

By Roger Weber - Reporter

ROYAL OAK, Mich. - Massasauga rattlesnakes are the Greta Garbos of the reptile kingdom: They just want to be left alone.

However, 13-year-old Caylee Kapa and her younger brother got too close to one along a trail at Stony Creek Metropark.

Read: Teen bitten by snake at Stony Creek

"So we put it down and my brother decided to step on it. He has those really big shoes. And it was just a baby so I was like, 'Anthony no! You're not going to step on it.' So I tried to save it," Caylee said.

The snake bit her hand. She is being treated at Beaumont Children's Hospital.

Jeff Jundt is the curator of reptiles at the Detroit Zoo.

"They're just going to sit in one spot and wait for a mouse or insects, or whatever, depending on what they're hunting," he said.

Researchers at Purdue University have implanted transmitters to track the animals in Michigan wetlands, which happen to be the massasauga's favorite place. The snake that bit Caylee was only 9 inches long. It was born this year.

"It'll have like a little button, they call it, at the very end of the tail, but it won't actually have a rattle yet," Jundt said.

The problem with the juvenile rattlesnake is that they cannot control their venom, often delivering more than an adult snake.

"It's not as potent as some of the species of rattlesnakes found in the southern part of the United States, but still enough where if you got a lot it might cause some issues," said Jundt.

Caylee is getting better with anti-venom treatment.

Unlike at the zoo, in the wild you will have no glass to protect you, but common sense can serve you just as well: stay away.

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