Sep 9, 2008

Cotton Mocassins & Rattles

Amy, while traipsing about southeastern Oklahoma at a Nature Conservancy preserve, came across a mama cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) and her brood (see the more colorful snakelings on the right).

Amy was wise to keep her distance. Cottonmouths are the only venomous aquatic snake in North America (they do most of their biting underwater), and are aggressive. They are pit vipers, related to the rattlesnake and the copperhead. Depending on who you listen to, they'll either bite you 1 in three times, or actively seek you out if you stumble into their territory. Regardless, the odds aren't good.

These snakes are also known as water moccasins. What's with the naming of vipers? Cotton, rattle, moccasin? Such benign terms to refer to such deadly animals.

Thanks for the photo, Amy.

7 comments:

niner said...

Aww I *LOVE* snakes! Look at the babies! See they have no arms or legs, making them much less threatening than evil spiders.

clockwork-fool said...

It's funny. I adore rattlesnakes. Cottonmouths can just--go away. Far away. Shoo. :|

Denita TwoDragons said...

Cottonmouths are one of the hazards of growing up in a very rural area. Nothing builds character quite like traipsing through tall grass to get to your favorite swimmin' hole...and suddenly looking down to find that one of the pretty pink buttercups a foot from your feet HAS FANGS!!!

--TwoDragons

Flartus said...

My brother was bit by a cottonmouth at the tender age of two. Dad, who's normally quite level-headed, went beserk and chopped the poor thing into 2-inch pieces before taking it in for questioning...I mean, identification. (My brother was fine; much better than Snakey, obviously.)

Kit said...

I've never come across one of these snakes in the wild (despite trying to catch every snake I saw as a kid.) The only possibiliy is if I saw a water moccasin, they are cowardly like all other snakes and flee from you.
Snakes are ok. Snakes eating... that's kinda gross.

Otter Mom said...

Cottonmouths (water moccasins) are not harmless snakes, and they are very aggressive. They were a fact of life when I was growing up in S. Texas, along with rattlesnakes. Flartus' brother might not have been bitten by a cottonmouth, there are other snakes that resemble them but aren't poisonous. If it was a cottonmouth, he is extremely lucky. Snakes are actually a very important part of the ecosystem, without them we would be up to our ears in rodents! We just need to leave certain snakes alone. I like snakes actually.

sang said...

Thanks Denita TwoDragonsn for providing us information about Cottonmouths.

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brianna

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