Those Sneaky Snakes

Why, yes, I do have more to say about snakes. Thanks for all the great comments on the previous snake post! I guess all the dry weather had them all wandering around the ranch or something. (Aside: it has been raining this week, which we truly needed, but we could use more.)

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This public domain photo shows the cotton mouth and thick body of a water moccasin.

Another venomous encounter

Ralph at Wild Type Ranch reported a water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorous, also known as a cottonmouth) in his driveway last week. I’ve never seen one when it wasn’t swimming, so that was a big surprise to me. His dog tripped over it, so it wasn’t in attack mode. That’s good, because they are poisonous!

Another fact about these guys is that there is a non-poisonous water snake that just swims around, happily convincing people that it might just be a cottonmouth. That is usually what we see in our ponds. They get big, and are fun to watch while they undulate around looking for fish to eat (given the water moccasin’s Latin name, one can infer they mostly eat fish, too).

How do you tell them apart? Well, read this really good article, which I’ll summarize by saying that cottonmouths have a pit viper shaped blocky head, and thick bodies, while water snakes have thin bodies and a head that just flows into the body. Basically, leave them ALL alone. They’re really cool when viewed through binoculars.

Continue reading “Those Sneaky Snakes”

Why I Don’t Live in Fear of Rattlers

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Safely behing my window screen, I captured the blurry image of a rattlesnake making a hasty exit.

Last Saturday night, Lee and I came home from a delicious Mexican dinner. I got to the door first and opened it, letting the deluge of dogs run toward Lee in the garage. I detected non-dog movement, and looked to the right side of the porch, where a three-foot (or so) rattlesnake was briskly making its way away from the commotion.

I took a good look, and yelled to Lee, “Rattlesnake on the porch! Enter from the left!” and he encouraged the dogs to make a wide turn as they ran back into the house unscathed.

I snapped the non-great shot above, and later posted in on Facebook. I sure got a LOT of responses there and in person! People said:

  • I could have DIED!
  • I should have shot it.
  • I should have beaten it with a sharp object (that was the neighbor, in person)
  • My dogs could have DIED.
  • It probably has a mate and will produce lots of babies!

I guess much of that was true, but by now, I’ve had enough experience with these guys to not be as frightened of them as many people are. This knowledge also helps:

…rattlesnakes rarely bite unless provoked or threatened; if treated promptly, the bites are seldom fatal. (Wikipedia, “Rattlesnake“).

Continue reading “Why I Don’t Live in Fear of Rattlers”