An 8-year-old boy is in critical condition at Medical University Hospital after he was bitten by a rattlesnake last week at Wannamaker County Park in North Charleston.

Zach Szala, 8, was playing in the woods at the park Wednesday when a rattlesnake bit him twice, according to Donna Gueldner, superintendent of park and recreation services. She did not know the size of the snake.

"It is my understanding that the boy and other children were off the paved trail in the woods jumping on a log when the strike occurred," she said. "The child was taken to the hospital where he has been receiving care ever since."

The boy was in critical condition today, said hospital spokesman Jeff Watkins.

The 1,015-acre park is off of U.S. Highway 78 and includes a cypress swamp.

"We've seen snakes and wildlife in all the county parks," Gueldner said. "Anytime they appear near shelters or playgrounds, we take steps to barricade the area until the wildlife is shooed away. We have park guidelines and one does ask the public to stay on trails and paths. This particular situation occurred approximately 75 feet into a heavily wooded area, so basically the snake was in his natural environment."

Gueldner said she's heard no other reports of snakebites in Charleston County's parks.

"Our thoughts are definitely with the family and the little boy," she said.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or