Experts have expressed fears that the massive floods caused by Hurricane Florence could spread deadly snakes from their wetland habitats through the Carolinas.
When Florence hit the North Carolina coast early on Friday, forecasts required storm surges of up to 11 feet in areas and localized rainfall exceeding 40 inches in the coming days.
The flood waters could quickly allow deadly snakes to spread from their typical habitats through the streets and homes of the city.
Of greater concern was the mouth of cotton, also known as the moccasin of water, a strong swimmer who lives in marshes and shallow water courses.
A snake is seen swimming in flood waters in South Carolina in 2009. Experts fear that the extensive floods from Hurricane Florence could allow deadly snakes to spread.
Michael Nelson floats on a boat made of a metal tub and fishing floats after the Neuse River veered off its banks and flooded New Bern, North Carolina on Thursday night
Copperheads, already found throughout the state, were also a concern nonetheless. Both are poisonous vipers.
"They inject poison, which causes tissue destruction, loss of platelets, bleeding, can cause death," said Gerald O'Malley of Grand Strand Hospital to Sun News in South Carolina.
Anyone bitten by a snake should seek immediate medical attention in a hospital, although that may be difficult for many until the flood waters recede.
In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Thad Bowman, of the Alligator Adventure Zoo, said he was working to protect all animals to protect them from the storm and to prevent them from escaping.
The reptile zoo has alligators, pythons, anacondas and a Black Mamba.
In a brief bulletin at 11 pm Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said Florence was 50 miles south of Morehead City, North Carolina, and 60 miles southeast of Wilmington.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and was moving northwest at six miles per hour.