PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – After a water moccasin bit him, Zamar Miller, 19, not only has a survival story to tell, but he has also taken away some useful tips for this snakebite season.
Surveillance video shows Miller taking one step out the door before a cottonmouth snake clamps down on his foot.
"I opened the door, and I stepped on a snake," he said. "Once I stepped on the snake, it came around and bit me on the foot."
The snake -- better known as a water moccasin -- sent poisonous venom into his body and left his leg in throbbing pain.
"I was in shock," Miller said, adding that he regrets not wearing any shoes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. each year. It was Miller's turn and he wasn't expecting the painful lesson.
It happened on the night of the Fourth of July inside a gated community in Pembroke Pines. He said the snake slithered away and he was able to quickly call 911.
"I was scared. I didn't know what was next, but I was trying to stay strong for my mother," Miller said.
There are between 80,000 and 138,000 deaths and more than 300,000 amputations after snakebites each year, according to the World Health Organization. The high-quality medical care in the U.S. makes the probability of dying from a venomous snake bite nearly zero.
After paramedics rushed Miller to a hospital, doctors called Miami Dade County's Venom One team, a special unit that maintains one of the largest banks of antivenom in the country.
Authorities captured the snake and released it in wetlands away from Pembroke Pines. It's snakebite season, so they are asking residents to be aware of every step they take. The snakes are nocturnal and are searching for prey.
Miller has been released from the hospital and is using a walker to get around. His foot is still swollen, but he's expected to make a full recovery.
Miller said he plans to be more cautious about his surroundings and will be wearing shoes the next time he steps outside.
Police said snakebite season in Florida runs from April through October and urge people to use caution when walking in or near tall grass.
"If you are moving objects outdoors, check that nothing is concealed underneath before you proceed," the Pembroke Pines Police Department posted on social media. "PARENTS, make sure to educate your children on the dangers of snakes. Any snake found in the wild should be left alone, unless it is presenting a danger to the surrounding area."
Tips for snake season
- Wear ankle-high boots, heavy pants and long-sleeved shirts
- Use a hiking stick or a tree branch to look under logs or places where snakes could be hiding
- If you see a snake, do not make quick movements