I have come to the conclusion that more snakes are misidentified as a Cottonmouth than any other. In my home state
of Tennessee I have heard of sightings of Cottonmouths from all parts of the state when, in fact, they are only found
in the western half of the state. Apparently many people that see any snake anywhere near any body of water
assume it to be a Cottonmouth Water Moccasin. Of course if these people see a snake away from the water it is a
Copperhead unless it has rattles.|
Myself, I have seen scores of water snakes but only a few Cottonmouths. If you should see a Cottonmouth it will likely open it's moth to reveal the white inside. This is the best way to identify this snake because the markings on a mature snake are often hard to make out as they become almost uniformly dark with age. The young are lighter and clearly marked and look something like a Copperhead (to which they are closely related) with yellow at the tip of their tail. They are rather short for their broad bodies rarely reaching 180cm (5'10") in length and more typically just over half that size.
While they will not attack a human unless provoked, if surprised, they may stand their ground for a time before slinking off and hiding. Their bite is worse than that of a Copperhead but not as bad as a Rattlesnake and is seldom fatal to adults who get treatment but like all pit vipers the venom flowing in the blood stream kills flesh (necrosis) along the way making a nasty wound. This species of snake is actually considered fairly good natured and tolerant of humans and is kept as a 'pet' by some herpetologist.
Rattlesnake Sounding Off|
|Before taking this picture I had come to think that rattlesnakes might be mythical creatures. I had spent a great deal of time thrashing around in areas where rattlesnakes were supposed to live and had never seen or heard one. On this day as I was nearing the end of a long, rough hike when I came to a large tree that had fallen across the trail and completely blocked it with it's branchy crown. I made my way up a steep rocky slope to find a place where I could climb over the trunk. As soon as my foot hit the ground on the far side of the trunk I heard the unmistakable buzz of the rattles and looked down to see this guy only a step away. Pumped full of adrenalin I was barely able to get out a point and shoot camera and take a few shots.|
Grey Treefrog, Hyla versicolor or chrysoscelis|
Hyla versicolor or chrysoscelis
|It is hard to imagine form this photo how small this critter is. A couple of these could sit side by side on the tip of my little finger.|
Smooth Green Snake
Turtle With Bright Coloration|
Eastern Box Turtle
Box Turtles Mating|
Eastern Box Turtle
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© 2008 Daniel W Reed
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