GREENVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - A Greenville Police officer is sending out a warning about snakes, after a timber rattle snake bit her while she was on duty.
Officer Marissa Morrison was near the end of her overnight shift, in her favorite spot. “It's just quiet, there's a bunch of green, there's a bunch of grass,” Officer Morrison described the location she loves to finish her paperwork as she wraps up her day. “The sunrise was just gorgeous.”
She got out of her patrol car to take a picture. “I took one step back with my left leg and that’s when I felt him hit the back of my calf.” Officer Morrison had no idea the timber rattlesnake was there. She didn’t see it and never heard it until after the strike.
“It was probably still quite dark and hard for her to see what was on the ground,” said Herpetologist Jay Eubanks, who’s not surprised there was no warning.
“These animals are not out to attack people,” Eubanks explained. “They're going to sit there entirely camouflaged until they feel nervous or threatened they're going to hold that rattle.”
Timber rattle snakes are the most common species of rattle snake in Alabama. But Eubanks says, like most venomous snakes, they don't show up in well-developed areas, they don't like to be close to humans. Just be aware they could very likely be in more rural areas.
“There's no reason to be afraid to go out in the woods, you just have to practice what I call snake safety. watch where you walk, especially at night, take a flashlight and watch where you're putting your steps,” Eubanks warned.
Morrison has the same suggestion.
“They don't train you for this in the academy, so I really didn't know what to do,” she said. “If I could say anything to anybody, just watch where you're walking, because that was awful.”
Officer Morrison used her radio to call for help. Her supervisor got to her and got her to the hospital within a few minutes. By the time she got there, her leg was numb and her lips were tingling. After 16 vials of antivenin, and about a week at the hospital, several of those days in ICU, she’s back home with her three kids and just started physical therapy to work on rebuilding that calf muscle. There’s no timeline for when she’ll get back to work; she’s focusing on healing first.
Officer Morrison has served on the Greenville Police Department for about two years.