BOGALUSA, La. -- Learning how to maneuver crutches is not the way 6-year-old Bella Rigdon envisioned the start of her summer vacation.
She says it's better than where she's been the past four days, in a hospital bed recovering from a severe copperhead snake bite.
"It was inside the circle and then it went up to here and then the next day it went all the way up to here," she explained, pointing to the middle of her calf, then moving her finger to her knee.
"It swelled so bad that she couldn't even pick her leg up," said Bella's mom, Nikki Rigdon, "It was pretty scary."
It took a full day to stop the venom from spreading and another two days to get the swelling and bruising to start subsiding.
The bite happened when Bella and some family members were at Cassidy Park on Friday. She said they had just wrapped up a cannonball competition in the creek near the Indian Museum.
"We were walking to the car and then ... I didn't see the snake, it was covered up in brown leaves," Bella recalled, "I walked past it, because I was the third one, and then it just bit me."
The City of Bogalusa says it mows and manicures the park's grounds weekly in an effort to keep wildlife from getting comfortable in frequently populated areas, but the nature that surrounds the property can't be kept away at all times.
One of the lessons this family hopes that others can take from this situation is to always be aware of what could be around you. Wildlife experts say it's not that easy when it comes to snakes, which frequently camouflage themselves for protection and often stay coiled up.
Experts say to keep a close eye on the ground when you're near water banks and leaf piles and if you spot a snake, stay away from it.
Bella has to stay on the crutches for the rest of the week, unfortunately missing her dance performance this weekend, but she looks forward to being at the recital to help her teacher and classmates.
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