A 21-year-old Pennington man is lucky to be alive after he was bit by a venomous snake which landed him in the hospital for three days.

Kevin Murray tells the Daily Voice of Mercer County he was on his way back to his car after taking a sunset hike at Baldpate Mountain in Titusville last Thursday. It was then that he felt this stinging sensation in his left ankle.

About 20 minutes later, he was at the emergency room at Capital Health in Pennington, where he was hospitalized for several days.

According to the website of The Department of Environmental Protection's Endangered and Nongame Species Program, there are 22 species of snakes found in New Jersey. But only two are venomous: the timber rattlesnake and the northern copperhead.

There are other snakes that resemble the copperhead but principal zoologist Kris Schantz said distinguishing the real one from the lookalikes can be tricky. The copperhead is one of the state's least common snakes, so it's often confused with the northern water snake and the eastern milk snake.

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Copperheads usually have a dark-colored pattern that forms hourglass-shaped bands from side to side.

Schantz said it's always important to use common sense when walking through the woods because you can never be quite sure if you're walking through a snake habitat. Just pay attention and be aware of your surroundings. Stay calm and keep a healthy distance to ensure your safety.

"Snakes see us as the predator. Their first choice is to try to lay still and blend in with their surroundings or, if feeling threatened, to try to get away," she said.

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