SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Over the weekend, a man was severely bitten by a rattlesnake in North Port.
After a second surgery Tuesday, Earl Hjertsdedt fears he’ll never walk the same again. On top of that, Wednesday is his wife Dihanna’s due date. She’s supposed to have their second child at Sarasota Memorial Hospital - the same place her husband is now recovering from the bite.
“At this moment, I’m just grateful he’s here with us, knowing what could have happened,” Dihanna Hjertsdedt said.
But tears filled her eyes at the thought of what did happen.
“I have drop foot so I will no longer be able to raise my foot up," explained Earl Hjertsdedt. "I’ll have to have some extensive gear, of some sort.”
It took a split second for life as Earl knew it to change, with no warning.
“I was screaming I got bit I got bit!” said Earl. “It felt like, literally, like a bat hitting my leg and I looked down and started hearing the sound of the rattlesnake.”
The order of events is unusual, since experts said rattlesnakes will typically rattle first, then strike. But Earl was in swampy lands just outside of the new Braves stadium. This was snake’s territory.
“Being that we had a lot of rain last week in this area, that will flush them out," explained John Lebron, rattlesnake curator at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. "We also have high temperatures, which means their metabolism is increasing, which means they’re going to feed more often. You factor in, he was clearing an area, so we don’t know if he was clearing an area that was this animal’s home. Just like you protect your home, they protect their home the same way.”
The rattlesnake curator called it a perfect storm, which might be why Sarasota Memorial Hospital has treated two patients with snake bites in the last week after five years of no bites at all.
But it’s not just North Port.
“There’s a Diamondback rattlesnake on the trail!" Darryl Lang yelled in a video she took of another snake on the Legacy Trail.
The good news is, experts say if human’s don’t attack them, rattlesnakes typically won’t attack humans.
“The snake’s not going to say hey there’s a human on a bike, let me go chase him and bite him," said Lebron. "That’s not what they want to do. Because once again it takes energy to produce venom and you want to conserve energy and it also puts the snake at risk.”
So anyone who is hiking, out on a local trail, or in a rural construction area, experts said to be on the lookout. Anyone in those areas should keep their eyes and ears open for that rattle, shuffle their feet through the woods and take their time, meaning it isn’t wise to go running through the shrubs.
Lastly, remember, the woods are nature’s realm, not human’s.
For more information on rattlesnakes from experts at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, click here.
Hjertsdedt has a recovery fund. If you’d like to donate, click here.