HomeOutdoorsTennessee Toddler Rushed to Hospital After Being Bit By Copperhead in Her Toys

Tennessee Toddler Rushed to Hospital After Being Bit By Copperhead in Her Toys

by Jon D. B.
(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

A 20-month-old West Tennessee toddler is recovering after being bitten by a copperhead that coiled up inside her pile of toys.

First and foremost, the toddler’s mother wishes for other parents to learn from their story. Her 20-month-old toddler, Emmy Joe, went to play with her toys on their back porch. Emmy Joe’s mother says her toys were right beside the door up next to the house.

“Emmy Joe, my baby, walked up to where her toys were and started screaming. My babysitter looked and said she saw a snake,” Foust says. This was the moment in which Emmy Joe was bitten by the highly venomous copperhead snake.

The copperhead struck her foot, and the swelling began almost instantly. The Foust’s babysitter called them immediately. Thankfully they were a short drive away, and were able to rush home to take Emmy Joe to the emergency room.

“She was vomiting, just in a lot of pain,” her mother tells WBIR in a local interview. “I was holding her, just consoling her, trying to get calm down.”

Toddler Hospitalized for Two Days Following Snake Bite

Faust says her daughter’s swelling and pain continued for a full day. Antivenom, however, was not administered. Side effects for antivenom can be worse than the venom itself – especially for highly vulnerable patients such as toddlers or the elderly.

Emmy Joe was kept in the hospital for a full two days of recovery, and is said to be doing well.

Upon returning home, her father found the copperhead still coiled up in her porch toys.

“It [was] right on our back porch. Right when we stepped outside. It could’ve happened to anybody. We no longer keep any of their toys on the back porch. Nothing is on there,” Foust says.

The Fousts wish to warn other parents that live near copperhead habitats to take similar precautions.

“I think people think right now since it’s cold outside they’re not out and they’re not moving but they are. I mean, this was a cold day when this happened,” Foust clarifies.

Identifying Copperhead Snakes

It is important to know if you may have venomous snakes in your immediate area. In Tennessee, where this incident took place, there are four venomous snakes. Timber Rattlesnake, Pygmy Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth, and Copperhead.

Southern copperhead snake and its markings. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

The Southern copperhead typically lives in wooded, forested areas within the Southeastern US. They will occupy abandoned and rotting wood, rockpiles, and sawdust piles. They also like construction sites and wooded coverings in suburban areas – such as porches.

Copperheads have distinct markings, but can still resemble other species, such as harmless corn snakes. In order to tell them apart, the easiest place to look is the head. As a species of pit viper, a copperhead will have a very distinctly triangle shaped head. This is also a good general rule of thumb to remember. If a snake has a triangle-shaped head – avoid it and never approach – and call local Animal Control if needed.

Clemson University also details Copperhead markings in order to help people identify these dangerous snakes.

“Parts of the pattern of the copperhead resemble an hourglass and is one of the most diagnostic traits of all. The hourglass shape lays somewhat “sideways” on the copperhead’s back; the wider portion of the shape starts on one side of the body, thins towards the middle-top edge of the back (closest to the spine), and then widens back out to the opposite side of the snake. To put it simply, the top of the hourglass touches the left side of the body, the bottom of the hourglass touches the right side of the body. Keep in mind that the hourglass shapes can occasionally “mismatch” and seem like they disconnect from the complete shape, especially towards the tail.”


It is illegal in Tennessee to trap or kill any snake, regardless of danger. You can, however, contact TWRA to identify a snake or the proper authorities to deal with one if needed.

If you are a TN resident and need to do so, take a picture of it and email the TWRA at [email protected].