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BROWN COUNTY, Ind. – A 7-year-old girl was bitten by a snake while playing with other kids at Brown County State Park over the weekend.

Park staff believes the bite came from a copperhead snake, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

DNR says the girl was bitten at about 9:15 p.m. Saturday, while running around her family’s tent and into the edge of a wood line. After complaining of two puncture wounds on her ankle, the girl’s father checked the area and reportedly saw a snake.

The family called 911 and the girl was transported by ambulance to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. She’s expected to make a full recovery.

Park staff attempted to catch the snake, but it escaped through heavy foliage.

While rare, DNR says copperhead bites have occurred in the park before and they have had the same factors in common—they happened after dark and the person involved was not using a flashlight in a poorly lit area.

DNR offered these tips to help prevent encounters with snakes in the park:

  • Stay on designated trails and mowed areas. Snake are less likely to come out in the open.
  • After dark, snakes will move around to hunt for food or lay on warm roadways. Stay in well-lit areas or use a flashlight.
  • Keep your campsite clean. Snakes feed on rodents that may be drawn to human food wrappers. Debris on the ground may draw rodents to the campsite, and snakes may follow.
  • If you are camping in an area where there are snakes, occasionally check your campsite to make sure no snakes are passing through.
  • If a snake does come on your campsite, stay away from it, keep kids and pets away from it, and notify the campground office, which will alert other park staff.

Copperheads are natural members of the ecosystem and food chains of the Brown County area. They mostly feed on small rodents, which has a large impact on reducing tick populations.

“When we play in the same environment that copperheads live in, we just need to be careful and take a little extra caution,” said Patrick Hauler, the park’s interpretive naturalist.

It’s illegal to kill snakes on Indiana State Parks property.