Friday, April 09, 2010


Today I got some nice looks at a fearsome and impressive creature, Agkistrodon piscivorus. I had been expecting Cottonmouths in every wetland, swamp, and ditch I waded through, without seeing any. (They very well could have been there, sight unseen.) My respect for these creatures has not diminished, by any means, after seeing them up close.

This was the first Cottonmouth I came upon. I spotted him from a distance and got some nice pictures without disturbing him.
It had been a cool night, and he was still warming himself in the sun beside a wetland/pond. Here you can see him in a defensive posture with his head cocked back at a 45 degree angle. He even rattled his tail against some dead leaves to give warning.
If that warning was not threatening enough, here you can see him showing his nice and white cotton mouth. I don't know if the white in his mouth necessarily reminds me of cotton, but it does sound better than white-mouth or snow-mouth. Check out the fangs.
Here he is staring straight at me. At no point was I close, but he was certainly aware of our presence.
Here is the third Water Moccasin that I saw. He made me respect their camouflage ability. I walked right past him and did not see him until I looked back. He was not near the water, but was sitting up the hill further in the leaves under a bush.
Mark, my coworker, started towards me after I told him that there was a Water Moccasin. That was very good, because the snake started keying in on him, while he was a safe distance away (and I was much closer.)
This snake was feisty and must have been feeling threatened and ornery. He shook his tail hard and made violent movements as if he were going to dart toward us.
Pretty soon, he took to the water, but it was clear he was not retreating or conceding the fight. He swam with his head up out of the water, and then turned back towards the shore and glared a challenge at us. What a beautiful and terrible creature.

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