‘A bigger one, and maybe you die’ - NJ man recovering from snake bite

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A Paterson man is recovering after a nearly fatal venomous copperhead snake bite over the weekend.

Francisco Angon's hand and forearm are still swollen, and his middle finger remains wrapped in gauze. He says he was fortunate that the snake that bit him was only about 12 inches long.

“The doctor said, 'A bigger one, and maybe you die,'” Angon says.

Angon says he was standing by some cars on River Street in Paterson Saturday afternoon when he felt the snake brush up against his foot. He says he reached down to grab it and move it, but it bit him.

RELATED: Police: Venomous copperhead snake bites man in Paterson 

He says that as venom flowed into his bloodstream, it started rising up through his hand and arm. He passed out within minutes. He was first taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, but it didn't have any anti-venom. He eventually awoke in a hospital in the Bronx, where he was transferred to get treatment.

Wildlife experts say that copperhead attacks are rare but not unheard of in New Jersey – especially in Paterson.

"They are actually found in that area natively, typically around bodies of water. So streams, rivers - they actually like to stay along the banks there,” says Sam Wegman, with the Turtle Back Zoo.

Wegman says that copperheads are found in four of New Jersey’s northern counties. They are one of only two venomous snakes found in the Garden State, along with the timber rattlesnake. There are 20 other species of snakes in New Jersey, which are not venomous.

Wegman says that the snakes will only attach when provoked and that both venomous snakes have triangular-shaped heads.

The copperhead that bit Angon was captured by animal control and is now in the hands of state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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