East Providence man bitten by venomous snake

Photo: RI DEM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Riverside man is recovering after he was bitten by a venomous snake in his yard, police said.

According to East Providence police, John Hunter was watering his plants at his home on Channing Avenue when he spotted the snake Thursday night.

Police said he put a bucket on top of it after being bitten and waited for emergency officials and members of the Department of Environmental Management to arrive.

Hunter was taken to Rhode Island Hospital where he remains in good condition.

Officials identified the snake as a copperhead — a reptile that is illegal to own in Rhode Island.

Bruce and Susan Rinebolt told Eyewitness News they thought they had seen it all in their neighborhood — fox, coyote, even a swan walking down the street.

“Just earthworms and garter snakes, that’s about it. No copperheads at all, This is very, very unusual,” said Bruce Rinehold.

Bruce was alarmed when he looked down his street Thursday and saw a “commotion” of flashing lights.

“We didn’t know what was going on,” he said.

According to DEM officials, copperhead venom is rarely fatal to humans — but the fact that there are no known populations of the creatures in Rhode Island is frightening.

At this time it is unclear how or why the snake ended up in East Providence.

So now, investigators are trying to figure out if it was unintentionally transported to Rhode Island or if it possibly escaped from an exotic pet owner.

Neighbors say those are questions they want answered quickly.

“Are there others, do we need to be concerned? There are a lot of pets on this street and a lot of grandkids,” said Susan.

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