4-year-old boy bitten by rattlesnake dies

Animal expert says snake encounters could increase with warmer temperatures

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 4-year-old boy bitten by a rattlesnake in the Bryceville area of Nassau County one week ago has died.

Brayden Bullard was taken to UF Health Jacksonville on June 13, where he was getting antivenin. He was then to be transferred to the intensive care unit at Wolfson Children's Hospital.

The boy remained in critical but stable condition for days, but the hospital confirmed that he died at 4:37 p.m. Friday.

Brayden was the grandson of Nita Crawford, the Baker County supervisor of elections, who released this statement on Friday:  "I would like to thank everyone for all of their prayers spoken on Brayden's behalf. Our precious grandson is in heaven now, sitting on Jesus' lap. We now ask for prayers to be said for our family."

Crawford said Brayden was in the backyard of his Bryceville home with his dad hoeing watermelons when a 4½-foot-long timber rattler bit him on the arm.

Dan Maloney, an animal expert with the Jacksonville Zoo, said with warmer temperatures outside there could be more human encounters with snakes, including venomous snakes. He said they thrive in the sun and can move incredibly fast.

"It's to their advantage to be able to move fast," Maloney said. "Don't underestimate the speed. We know that people may think they may be able to move faster than a rattlesnake."

There are five venomous snakes in Duval County: the diamondback rattlesnake, pygmy rattlesnake, the canebrake or timber rattlesnake (pictured), the water moccasin or cottonmouth, and the coral snake.

Maloney said even though bites from venomous snakes are rare, you should never assume snakes are not around, or even on your property.

"You're going to have animals going into crevices of rocks or underneath boards that are stacked up or maybe logs in your backyard," Maloney said. "So, you need to be careful when you're moving around in those areas."

Maloney said if you are bitten, the most important things to do are:

  • Stay calm and keep your heart rate down
  • Don't attempt to suck out the poison
  • Most importantly, get to a hospital as soon as possible

"Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to Brayden's family," Maloney said. "It's just such a tragic thing. I just feel so bad for them."

A family friend set up a GoFundMe account online to help the family pay for medical and funeral expenses.

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