Watch Your Step!

If my husband's not on duty, we usually go wandering after I finish my water monitoring on Sunday mornings. Today we wandered over to a nearby borrow pit. In these parts it pays to be particular about where you put your feet. In the past we have seen numerous cottonmouths in and around this particular borrow pit. Today was no exception -- we found five Eastern Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus).

Most folks around here think every snake they see, particularly around the water, is venomous. That's just not so. The cottonmouth (a.k.a. water moccasin) is our only venomous water snake. It is one of the three venomous snakes found here. The others are the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and the canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). [The coral snake (Micrurus fulvius), another venomous species, can be found in the southern coastal plain of North Carolina.]

We like snakes, all snakes. They are very important in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. If you respect a snake's personal space and pay attention to what you're doing, you won't get bitten. I never handle venomous snakes and I handle the non-venomous ones with care. Snakes are often misunderstood and feared. It really bothers me when I hear someone say, "The only good snake is a dead snake." What a horrible attitude to have toward a truly amazing animal.


chryscat said...


I'm all for personal space. The snakes can have theirs, and I can have mine. Never the two shall meet. But it doesn't work like that. We have copperheads in the yard and cottonmouths in the pond. Geez. Talk about treading lightly. I'm almost walking on air.

Rurality said...

Cottonmouth is the one that scares me. I've seen some that are a little aggressive, whereas the copperheads will run away and the rattlers will make noise!

We have the coral snakes but I've never seen one.

We are supposed to be on the northern range limit for cottonmouth I think, but the neighbors tell me they're here.

Last year I found out how well a copperhead can swim. :)

I'm hoping the dog doesn't run into ANY of these!

Michuli said...

Although obviously not native to this area, I had a Ball Python for many years. He had become a dear friend and companion and had made many friends of his own. I had been asked many times by those who do not care for snakes, why I would keep one for a pet. I'm not saying that they show actual affection but they do come to recognize those that they trust. They are aware of your presence when you come into the room. They will let you know when they would like to come out and play. My particular snake loved attention. Pythagorus passed away a year ago March 5th. I still miss him.