Woman Bitten by Snake in Balboa Park - NBC Southern California

Woman Bitten by Snake in Balboa Park

The victim was near the Museum of Art when it happened



    Balboa Park Snake Bite 'Incredibly Rare'

    A woman is recovering from a snake bite that happened in the Desert Garden at Balboa Park Sunday. NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda talked to a park ranger who says this is a very rare occurrence. (Published Monday, April 28, 2014)

     Emergency crews were called out to Balboa Park Sunday after a woman was bitten by a snake, San Diego Fire-Rescue officials confirmed. 

    The woman was in the park's Desert Garden -- across the street from the Natural History Museum -- when the snake bit her around 1:50 p.m. Park Ranger Ken Duclo said it's possible the victim stepped on the slithery animal. 

    Paramedics took her to the hospital to determine how severe her injuries are. First responders told Duclo the unidentified victim will be fine.

    It's unclear what kind of snake was the culprit, though based on the bite wound and her reaction, Duclo said it's highly unlikely it was a rattlesnake. It may have been a gopher snake, which looks similar to a rattler but is not poisonous.

    According to Duclo, snake bites at Balboa Park are extremely rare.

    "I've been a ranger in the park for 19 years. I've only seen a rattlesnake one time in the park," said Duclo.

    As for gopher snakes, the ranger said he's only seen seven or eight of them in the last three years.

    The news of the snake bite made some Balboa Park visitors more cautious as they walked along the paths. 

    Becky Schultz got a bit nervous when she heard some rustling in the cactus. 

    "I just watched closely and made sure it was not a snake, and I might stick to the path rather than walking on the dirt now next to the plants," said Schultz. 

    As the weather warms up, the crawly creatures emerge from their hibernation. But the San Diego County Department of Animal Services said the region's warmer-than-usual winter was already drawing snakes out of their dens early -- especially rattlesnakes. 

    Last month, NBC 7 reported that the DAS has received more than three times the number of rattlesnake calls between January and March compared to the same time last year.