Cottonmouth (and other venomous snakes)

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by Spongiform, May 19, 2006.

  1. Spongiform

    Spongiform New Member

    Messages:
    150
    State:
    Virginia
    One thing I've noticed is that many people really don't know too much about Cottonmouth snakes (aka the Water Moccasin).

    I've seen alot of people think any water snake they see is a cotton mouth - even if they're not even native to that region.

    It's also a myth that they're mean or aggressive. They'll only attack if provoked. They are one of the few snakes who have a tendancy to stand their ground if bothered which is where the myth comes from.

    If harassed they will either run away or show their white smile to you as a warning to leave them alone.

    Here's a few links to get yourself educated!

    Here's a range-map of the eastern US. They're a southern species.
    Here's another range-map.

    Cottonmouth on Wikipedia

    Smithsonian Nation Zoo - Cottonmouth Fact Sheet

    Missouri State Conversation - Water Snakes and the Cottonmouth

    Another neat tidbit about venomous snakes in north america are the eye's.

    Pit Vipers (Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Cottonmouths, Sidewinders and so on) have slanted cat-like pupils whereas your normal snake will have round pupils.

    Here's some examples.

    Black Rat Snake

    Northern Water Snake (one of the most common water snakes in the US and very commonly mistaken for a Cottonmouth!)

    Eastern Cottonmouth

    Rattlesnake

    Texas Night Snake (these snakes are a western desert species ranging from mexico to washington state - rear fanged and venonmous - but not considered dangerous to humans)

    The only exception that I know of is the Coral Snake.

    Coral Snake

    Coral snakes are rare, secretive - some species on the endangered species list and also rear-fanged. That means their fangs are in the back of their mouth which make it very hard to bite a human. Here's their range in the US.

    ------
    Snakes can strike for about 1/3 of their bodylength if coiled up. So a 4 foot snake can strike about 15 inches.

    ------

    So don't flip out the next time you see a water snake. It's probably not a cottonmouth and even if it is - it's not going to bother you unless you bother it.

    Especially don't go around killing every snake you see because it might be poisonous!


    Hope all that information helps when you're out fishing and see a snake :D

    --
    Brian
     
  2. flat1

    flat1 New Member

    Messages:
    54
    State:
    WV
    you have a good point about mistaken idenity of snakes i have heard people say they have seen cotton mouth here in ohio and i have seen milk and corn snakes killed because someone thouhgt it was a copperhead we have a few type of water snakes here but no cottons too far north
     

  3. Gator

    Gator New Member

    Messages:
    1,116
    State:
    Ludowici GA
    The Coral snake is a member of the cobra family (which includes coral snakes) contains some of the world's most dangerous snakes including cobras, mambas and sea snakes. They're found worldwide and are the predominant family in Australia. Only three species are found in North America -- two species of coral snakes and one sea snake.

    These snakes possess long, slender bodies and large scales (plates) on the head. The small fangs in the front of the mouth are "effectively tubular" meaning they contain grooves that are enclosed by an in-folding of the tooth edges.

    The coral snakes are relatively small snakes that spend most of their time underground. Their primary food is other snakes. Despite their small size and small fangs, their venom is extremely toxic.
    Recently deceased snakes can still have a bite reflex. Additionally, the poisons from these animals can still affect you long after they've been dead should you snag your skin on a fang for example.

    As with all animals, these creatures are a normal and desired part of the ecosystem. Seeing one should be considered a real treat and not an opportunity to molest it or kill it.
     
  4. Dreadnaught

    Dreadnaught New Member

    Messages:
    5,444
    State:
    Henderson,Ky
    I couldn't agree more Jim. I know people that will kill any snake they see, and that is a very disturbing habit. These creatures want to live just like you do. Most snakes will make you hurt yourself!!!
     
  5. Believer

    Believer New Member

    Messages:
    1,362
    State:
    Greenwood, AR.
    You guys have posted some good information. I will correct something though.
    There is NO such thing as a "poisonous snake" there are "venomous snakes" though. :smile2:
    It sounds trivial I know, but indulge me for a momment... A poison is something that is ingested, such as through eating or drinking, while a venom is something that is injected, such as a bee sting or snake bite.

    While it is good to be able to identify snakes by their eyes, that requires that you get pretty darn close. The best thing is to just keep your distance and leave it alone. Especially, do not try to pick it up if you don't know for sure what it is.
     
  6. Believer

    Believer New Member

    Messages:
    1,362
    State:
    Greenwood, AR.
    LOL, that is so true. Many accidents happen to people when they are trying to kill or flee from a snake. Had they stayed calm all would've been fine. :tounge_out:
     
  7. IL Hunter

    IL Hunter New Member

    Messages:
    1,574
    State:
    Normal, IL
    Hmm This whole time I've thought we had a ton of cottonmouths around here, but It really looks like the northern water snake.
     
  8. peewee williams

    peewee williams New Member

    Messages:
    3,111
    State:
    Pembroke,Georgia
    Cottonmouths are Snakes which are individuals,with individual temperament.Not all are good natured and easy to get along with like me.Ha!Ha!I have found them aggressive at times,and have been attacked without knowingly provoking the snake.Most often in the fall,when walking the banks and fishing the creeks at lower water levels.I have also had them for pets and found many to be gentile and docile.I can say the same for rattlesnakes and many foreign species.I carried one around in my shirt as a 9 year old at Santee.My mother would strip search me on the back porch,before allowing me to enter the house.The two most easy going and gentile snakes that I ever had was a Cottonmouth and a Gaboon Viper.Even they would get nervous and act aggressive with a stranger around,be it human or animal.They would react to a strange automobile driving up in the yard.Being caged,they had no option to retreat.We and the family dog react much the same,don;t we?I have kept reptiles and other animals most of my life.With illness,I have given up most,as I can no longer handle them properly.With the comeback of feral hogs and Gators,even the woods and water is no longer safe for them.I do not kill snakes.I remove them if necessary.They are animals.They should be treated as such.With caution.Our life and theirs depends on it.peewee-williams
     
  9. greggofish

    greggofish New Member

    Messages:
    214
    State:
    Holly Springs, NC
    but...should probably throw in the Western Cottonmouth for those few members in a small part of Illinois and a few other non Southern locals......
     
  10. waterwalker

    waterwalker New Member

    Messages:
    604
    State:
    Louisville Ohio
    I have heard alot of people in Ohio say they have seen cotton mouths, well they have no clue...there is no cotton mouths here...granted there
    is alot of water snakes. Believe me I have been up close and personal
    with cotton mouths, a few in tenn...more often in NC. It is pretty simple
    to identify even when the snake is in the water, the head is wider then
    the neck at that point. I have seen a few copperheads over the years
    here, and one timber rattler in southern Ohio deer hunting.

    This brings an amusing true story of my father inlaw and his friend Lou. It
    seems Lou was terrified of snakes, but loved to fish, he always carried a
    45 auto with him to ease his fears. Well Jack landed at Normandy and
    was afraid of the water ever since he came home. Sooo...here they are
    fishing for crappie under a few trees and the stuff hit the fan. A water
    snake fell into the boat from an overhanging branch, at this point Lou drew his pistol and proceeded to to distribute 10 rounds into the bottom
    of the small aluminum boat. Needless to say the boat began to sink, Jack cussed all the way to shore...Lou was still mouthing things unprintable as he got to the shore, gun in hand. They both settled just enough to see the snake swimming away from the area of combat. I'm not sure if they ever fished together again, but Lou dispatched his son to retrieve what was left of the boat. They are both gone now, but I still chuckle anytime I walk along the river where it happened...the shootout on the Little Sandy
    Creek.
     
  11. jtrew

    jtrew New Member

    Messages:
    4,404
    State:
    Little Rock, AR
    First of all, I want to say that if a snake stays away from me, I'll let it alone; and if it isn't too close, I'll give it a chance to go away. But, if I've got a .22 loaded with snakeshot and a snake shows up too close, I'm not going to be wasting time looking at it's pupils, or even its tail, which is rounded on the bad boys, and sharp pointed on the 'good' snakes.
    Cottonmouths often will NOT leave you alone if you don't bother them...unless you want to count that your being alive on this earth bothers them. Maybe it is all innocent on their part, but when a snake is up in a tree, trying to drop down on me, it's bothering me...a lot; when I'm out in the boat at night and cottonmouths are constantly trying to get in the boat with me, that bothers me...a lot. If I have a way to kill those snakes involved in those activities, I will kill them without hesitation. Now I'll try to be fair, if I see the snake in the water before it starts trying to get in the boat, I'll try to scare it away. But them blamed cottonmouths generally just go ahead and try to get in the boat. It's in Mother Nature's plan for stupid species to go extinct; just look at the dodo and the passenger pigeon.
     
  12. AwShucks

    AwShucks New Member

    Messages:
    4,532
    State:
    Guthrie, Oklaho
    I worry about those which have inbred....the copper mouthed rattler mocossain...they are pure mean, with a captial "M". I have been know to let snakes live, depending upon the results of my snake guage. If the short hair on the back of my neck stands up, its curtains for that critter. It should not have let me get that close. lol. I do believe we should not make any species extinct, but I think snakes have a long way to go before they need to get worried.
     
  13. Buddrice

    Buddrice New Member

    Messages:
    4,032
    State:
    Louisiana
    This is what My wife and I were fishing next to the other day.We were catching some good bream and had six snakes within 10 feet of us and these two I could have touched.The pix I am showing has two snakes together on a limb.I have found a lot of times if you find these snakes you will find bream.
     

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  14. Spongiform

    Spongiform New Member

    Messages:
    150
    State:
    Virginia
    I think you're a bit confused there. You're thinking of the Coppertailed Rattlehead. They're just plain vicious.

    Those look like either Northern Water Snakes or Banded. Either way they're way to thin and have stronger color bands to be a cottonmouth.

    As for the eyes - with good vision and good weather you can often see the eye's from 5-10ft away.

    Once in awhile I like to pick up a snake to take some pictures or to have a closer examination - but I will always check the eyes first to be 100% sure.
     
  15. Dreadnaught

    Dreadnaught New Member

    Messages:
    5,444
    State:
    Henderson,Ky
    I was always told that they were "Rattleheadedcoppermocasins"
     
  16. Dreadnaught

    Dreadnaught New Member

    Messages:
    5,444
    State:
    Henderson,Ky
    LMAO!!!

    People are not born with a fear of our legless friends, they are taught to fear them.
     
  17. Spongiform

    Spongiform New Member

    Messages:
    150
    State:
    Virginia
    That's a good point - people learn to fear these things mainly from their parents. Are you afraid of snakes? Is one of your parents too?

    Here's a story that really shows how much of an influence the fear or lack of fear is.

    I was hanging out with my cousin a few years ago. We grew up together but hadn't seen each other in a couple years. He'd gotten married and had a 4 or 5 year old daughter by then.

    We're out just exploring a stretch of forest along a creek in West Virginia and we found a 5 ft Black Rat Snake in some short grass. These critters can be somewhat aggressive initially - when you first grab them. But they quickly calm down and will be your best bud after that first moment.

    As a kid I kept wild-caught rat snakes for years and never had them be aggressive at all.

    So thinking it was pretty cool we took it back home to show the family. Well turns out his wife is downright terrified of them (so was her dad...) and she had a fit about it.

    So their kid was watching them the whole time. We kept the snake in an empty fish tank for a day or two till I went home. During the time the kid kept checking out the snake, wanted to pet it and such.

    So her dad is showing her how nice and safe this snake is - but her mom is like OMG and flipping out.

    So the kid would go from aww it's so cute one minute to omg its so scary!! Back and forth. The kid wasn't sure if she was supposed to like them or be afraid of them.

    Not sure how it ever turned out. I brought the snake home and let it go in my backyard - Had a bit of a mouse problem that year and that took care of it nicely.

    ~
     
  18. ladyfish50

    ladyfish50 New Member

    Messages:
    4,182
    State:
    Louisiana
    Brian, That was very well said. I worked in a pet shop several years ago, & I learned that as long as I know what kind of snake it is, I'm okay with it. I worked with a "burly" former National Guardsman, who would come get me to "get that thing out of my shop"! when our baby ball pythons would get loose. They were maybe 8-10" long! I always tried to promote snakes to people...they're clean, quiet, don't require much attention. Of course, my son (teenager at the time) was NOT very happy when one of my kingsnakes got loose in the house, & I told him to Please don't kill it! He was VERY relieved when I found it the next day...in the dirty clothes bin!!(Now spiders, on the other hand....NO WAY!!)
     
  19. ladyfish50

    ladyfish50 New Member

    Messages:
    4,182
    State:
    Louisiana
    To all who came up with those snake names.....excellent! Those are hysterical! And Arlington, I loved your comments. I'm Buddrice's wife, the one who posted the pic of the 2 snakes. I knew they were harmless, but I'll have to admit, they made me a little nervous. It seems those things always want to try to get in the boat!! Why!! They can swim!!
     
  20. RiverratSC

    RiverratSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,646
    State:
    Gaffney, SC
    Muck like weapon safety, I've been teaching my daughter about snakes for years. We've had a few pythons over the years and a few other native snake as well.