"Since I was barefoot, I was walking on the ivy to keep my feet clean," Rose said. "Then - bam! - it happened."
Rose said he thought it was a bee until he realized he'd been struck by a copperhead.
North Carolina is No. 1 in the nation for copperhead bites, with 228 documented last year. Most came in urban counties, where subdivisions brush against woods and creeks.
Mecklenburg County, with 28 reported copperhead bites last year, trailed only Wake County, which saw 49, according to Carolinas Poison Center statistics.
Anna Dulaney, spokeswoman for the poison center, said Mecklenburg has 13 reported copperhead bites so far this year, Wake County has reported 25.
Symptoms of copperhead bites can vary from mild swelling and bruising around the bite site to severe swelling and discoloration that spreads rapidly, causing tissue death.
Dulaney said sometimes bite victims can experience drops in blood pressure or changes in the way their blood clots, but she said such extreme symptoms are rare.
Grover Barfield, education chair of the N.C. Herpetological Society, has been bitten twice by copperheads.
"I had caught a baby copperhead and I was supposed to do a show-and-tell at my son's second-grade class. It was Friday the 13th," Barfield said. He said he was holding the snake's tail when he dropped its head. It recoiled and struck him.
"It was like a bee sting except three to five times more painful, and I could feel the venom spread to each of the joints in my hand."
Barfield said he excused himself from the class and drove to the hospital. He went back later to advise the kids to "not do as I do but do as I say and leave them alone because they can hurt you."
Not all copperhead bite victims experience symptoms. Dulaney said sometimes the snakes will "dry bite," or bite without injecting venom. She said most of those bites don't get reported. Jeff Hall, president of the N.C. Herpetological Society said studies of copperhead bites show up to 40 percent of bites are dry.
"They're not out to get people," Hall said.
"It's energetically expensive for them to bite something they can't eat - like a human," he said.
Hall said copperhead bites are often the results of snakes taking defensive measures when people get too close.
Tim Sullivan of Critter Control in Charlotte said copperheads like to lie in leaves or grass in partially sunny areas, making golf courses and parks likely places to get bitten.
He said Critter Control has handled 10 or 12 copperheads, mostly in the south Charlotte area.
Sullivan said minimizing pine needles and natural litter around your house, as well as using a chemical repellent, will help ward off copperheads. If you're face-to-face with a copperhead, Sullivan recommended, leave the animal alone and call a professional.
Both Hall and Sullivan said they have never been bitten by a copperhead, despite having careers that put them in contact with the reptiles.
Hall said copperheads are by far the most prevalent venomous snake in Mecklenburg - the five other types of pit viper in North Carolina are all found either in the mountains or coastal plains.
Copperheads are the only venomous snake present in all 100 counties in the state. They are capable of living anywhere they can find shelter, water and food.
Michael Dorcas, herpetologist and associate professor at Davidson College, said that while copperheads do present a threat when provoked, they aren't typically aggressive and should just be avoided or left alone.
"Sure, you've got to watch out for them, just like you've got to watch out for hornets' nests and holes in your yard," he said. "They're part of our natural world."