Devine copperheads, rattlesnakes, and cottonmouth venom used for medical research

A copperhead, cottonmouth, and rattlesnake.

Just a couple days after a Copperhead bite put Mrs. Sandra Bowyer in intensive care last Monday evening, her son Daniel Bowyer found yet another Copperhead outside his home in Great Oaks. Mrs. Sandra Bowyer and family are happy to report she was released from the hospital this past Thursday. Bowyer considers herself very lucky and will forever be grateful for all the prayers our community has sent upstairs. We want to remind residents especially in Great Oaks to remain vigilant as Copperheads seem to really thrive in that area of Devine.
In a message this week, Mrs. Bowyer stated, “I was released from the hospital Thursday evening because my labs were good, but with instructions to watch closely that the dead black rot on my finger didn’t spread. Our pastor’s wife is an RN. She noted that the black rotten part is contained in like a bubble. That part will auto amputate, the doctors explained over and over.”
“I’m feeling pretty well except for the constant throbbing,” Bowyer adds. “I told my husband ‘it’s just a little bit of my finger ’. He responded ‘well the hospital didn’t think it was a little thing’. I pondered about that. I remember noting that my blood pressure was wacky like 178/42 etc. With all the people praying, God is answering. I actually felt well enough to come to VBS today. I’m teaching missions for kindergarteners…..During my life as a missionary, I have learned to take one day at a time,” Mrs. Bowyer adds. “We have learned a lot through all this. God has blessed me so much with great care at the hospital but most of all the prayers of so many!”
Snake Removal and Research
Mr. Blaine Eaton, who offers snake removal services in the area said he’s picked up about a dozen Copperheads in the Devine/Natalia area so far this year as he gets back into the swing of things. He took some time off after being involved in a rollover accident a few months ago, but he is ready to help again and can be reached at 210-508-2358.
“Those Copperheads just love that sandy soil and a lot of people in Great Oaks also have ponds which they also love. The ponds bring in the Leopard Frogs which is a main part of a Copperhead’s diet,” Eaton said. “I have three families in Great Oaks who routinely call me to remove Copperheads year after year–one has a pool and the other two have ponds. Where a snake senses water they think there are going to be frogs so even a swimming pool attracts them. One year I took 9 copperheads from the property around the swimming pool, and a couple years ago I took 16 Copperheads from one of the properties with a pond.”
“If you are bitten wash it with soap and water to remove any residual venom from the skin, and keep the bite slightly lower than the heart. Gravity will keep the venom from getting through the rest of the system as quickly if you keep it at or slightly below the level of the heart,” Eaton said.
Over the years Eaton has captured and sent hundreds of venomous snakes to various labs conducting medical research with the venom.
“They are looking at all kinds of medicine using snake venom from Copperheads, Rattle Snakes and Cottonmouths,” Eaton said. “The University of Southern California is doing the big breast cancer research project using Copperhead venom and they are making progress. The last time I checked they are using the venom in clinical trials and it was very effective on stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer. I send my Copperheads and Rattle Snakes to labs which milk the venom from the snakes, freeze dry it, and send it to these research facilities.”