COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- This year is shaping up to be a very busy year for Rich Perry. Perry owns Virginia Wildlife Management Control. He's the man you call when you want a snake removed from your home or yard.
Perry said 2016 was one of his busiest for snake calls and in 2017, those calls came in earlier than ever before.
"It has been by far the worst year," Perry said. "Usually we don't start getting snake reports until right around the beginning April. We were actually getting calls for snakes in February."
Perry blamed a warmer winter for the early snake reports.
Paula Hood got a painful lesson about Virginia snakes.
Hood was gardening outside her Colonial Heights home on Friday when she uncovered a Copperhead.
"I wasn't paying attention. I wasn't wearing my gloves. And it bit me," Hood said. "When I pulled my hand away, you could see it hanging. When I shook it, it fell off."
With the snake's venom in her, Hood was rushed to the emergency room at Chippenham Hospital.
There she received anti-venom and stayed the weekend in the ICU.
Doctors told Hood on Tuesday that she will be able to recover from the bite without losing a finger or hand to amputation.
Perry said there are things homeowners and gardeners can do to lessen the chances of a Copperhead coming into their yard.
"The biggest thing that attract snakes, especially copperheads, is leaf piles, brush, debris," he said. "Don't leave that stuff laying around because they are a perfect habitat for snakes. They are literally drawn to them."
Perry also recommended cutting your grass cut low and closing your garage door when working in the yard.
"If you open your garage, the snake will detect the cold air [and cool concrete] and will come on in," Perry said.
Before working in the yard, he suggested making noise and rustling leaving to scare away lurking snakes.
"It's always good to have heavy gloves on. And wear boots," he added.
Advice Hood will take to heart.
"I was in a hurry and I think it's time you've got to slow down and be more alert and know what's going on," she said.