9.10.2005

More Than Meets the Eye


Take a look at this picture and tell me what you see. I'll be back later to tell you what we saw...

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So, what did you see?

Did you recognize the mound as an abandoned beaver lodge?
You did? Excellent!

Did you see the snakes? Yep, snakes. Sixteen of 'em, as a matter of fact. Eight adults and eight babies. All Cottonmouths, Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus.



There were at least sixteen on top of the lodge. I suspect there may have been more inside the lodge.



Cottonmouths, also known as Water Moccasins, tend to gather together in the late summer and fall in preparation for winter hibernation. Abandoned beaver lodges make excellent winter dens.


Whenever we paddle past a lodge or dam, we look closely to see if a cottonmouth or two is present. This snake had shed recently and was looking all fresh and spiffy.



Don't they look cozy?



This one seem to prefer a tad more personal space...



While these didn't mind sharing a sunny spot.



But the prize of the day was the presence of newborn babies. Cottonmouths give live birth in late summer. Litter size varies from 3 to 14. The young are about 10 inches (~25 cm) long and have yellow-tipped tails.



Isn't he cute? This was the first time we had seen babies this young. I love the fact that no matter how often we go out on the pond we always see something new -- and considering we've been paddling this pond and swamp for over twenty-five years, that's pretty amazing.

Man! I love my 'backyard'!!

Note: Be aware that Cottonmouths are venomous snakes and each has its own personality. One may be shy and slip away, another may be seemingly indifferent and just watch you pass by, while another may shake its tail and gape its mouth in warning. But they all have one thing in common, if you push them past their comfort level they will bite. So give them their space and appreciate them from a distance.

18 comments:

Floridacracker said...

Got the beaver lodge part, but thought that was too obvious...I knew Swamp had something else in mind.Called in the wife and daughter and they saw a little gremlin-like face in the foreground...just some sticks,etc.

Completely missed the snakes! Ouch!
Neat Post!

Hey, keep your eyes on Ophelia!

Anvilcloud said...

Aw shucks. I missed most of that.

swamp4me said...

Thought you might like that one. Cottonmouths blend in really well - they tend to look like part of the background. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can make out the snakes just to the right of the tree that leans to the left and you can just see the markings of the babies in a lump off a bit further to the right.

swamp4me said...

That should have said, just to the right of the tree on the left that leans to the right --- why don't I just quit while I'm ahead :P

Watchmania said...

I worked out the beaver lodge and an orang utan ...

swamp4me said...

Dang! I missed the orangutan.

Watchmania said...

If you look just right of centre at the top of the first pic, you'll see him dangling upside down and waving his arms. He looks a bit like a gourd but he didn't fool me.

swamp4me said...

Aha! Sneaky devil. I see him now. Silly me, I mistook him for a mistletoe gall...

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

OK, so I just saw ONE of the many, many, many snakes. Indiana Jones would not be comfortable in these parts. Stay away Indy!!

thingfish23 said...

Dude.

Unbelievable!

lené said...

I have to admit, I totally missed the beaver lodge. Maybe I've just never seen an old one, or maybe ours really do look different up here. Love all the snake pictures.

Pushesrb said...

I thought that's what my eyes were seeing. Yay for me. Although, I had my roomate look at it too, forgetting she was deathly afraid of our little friends. Yikes. :)

Rurality said...

Wow, what good camo on something that should really be, say, bright red.

I once walked within a few inches of one without seeing it. Luckily for me he must have been one of the laid-back ones!

SquirrleyMojo said...

This has sooo got to go in that book!

Laurie said...

OH. MY. GOD. Thank you for feeding my nightmare.

I'm from the N.C. swamplands myself. Can't say I would've hung out to get even one of those shots. I would've dropped the dang camera in the water!

catherine said...

It's a tossup between the frogs and the snakes in terms of my love. You are so fortunate to live where you do. At first I was just really frustrated that I couldn't see them in the non closeup, but then I went to the individual pics - just, wow.

Hope you're safe.

Killer said...

I saw the snakes and missed the mound.

swamp4me said...

Hehe, guess that's a case of not seeing the forest for the trees...