Monday, January 12, 2009

Now, THAT Is A Water Moccasin.

At the bottom of this post is a video that you may not enjoy if you are not crazy about seeing poisonous snakes up close and personal.

I brake for snakes.

Now, that is a big water moccasin ... aka, "cottonmouth".

(Tripod & camera self-timer shot, shutterbugs. Always have your tripod with you!)

As I found her ... with her head in a pretty normal position.

Now she's going defensive. By raising her head, she's perhaps warning you, but I think mainly it increases her field of vision, so she can react to any perceived threat ...
... like me.

Only, I was friend, not foe.

Try explaining that to a deaf, angry, poisonous serpent.

(Did J. K. Rowling not realize snakes are deaf when she came up with that whole parceltongue snake speak thang?)

Now, she is really, really ticked off, but it gives us a chance to see why she's called a "cottonmouth".

If you look closely, you can see one fang pretty clearly.

I imagine this is the last view of many a fish and frog.

This is the way I left her. She's off the roadway and in the roadside grass next to a cozy brushy field.

She's not happy with me, but she's not run over and dead either.

I realize that after I left, she may have slid right back out there to bask on the gravel road, but my little moccasin slide attempt may have saved her for this day. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered, with the sun low in the sky, perhaps no one would even have come by.

When I first encountered her, I was hoping she would scootch off on her own after a few shots, but she was absolutely not going anywhere, whether it was brazen confidence or slothful roadwarmth basking, she showed no signs of moving anywhere.

Yes, I messed with her ... read the banner mission statement at the top of this blog.

I'm hands on.

Well, in this case, hands on my extended tripodleg snake rescue device and my camera, not hands on the very poisonous, very irritated moccasin.

Although the camera angle and the video may not make this clear, I did keep just out of the strike zone and never, ever, never took my eye off her head even while filming ... you saw me jump, even though I was out of reach.

I like to call it "calculated risk" not "being crazy"... unlike my wife and certain friends.





And give a snake a brake.


Anonymous said...

Shudder! I lived in Texas for a number of my formative years and heard too many stories about Cottonmouths being crazy aggressive and chasing people. Glad you didn't kill her but ugh.

Sandcastle Momma said...

I agree with Mrs FC about the crazy thing but Wow! What a video!

That moccasin was huge. We see them on the Choctawhatchee River a lot but not nearly as big as that one. That strike was very impressive.

Florida Beach Basics said...

That's a dandy story, great pix, and I love the "give a snake a brake" - good stuff!


tai haku said...

Sweet cottonmouth FC! Lovely clean patterning for such a big old snake. Thank you for braking and moving her - I think if I lived in Florida, I'd probably have to keep a snake hook in the back of the jeep somewhere at all times for just such a situation.

Anonymous said...

Excellent shots (and good advice!)
While not a cracker myself, but after ten years in Florida, I know my snakes. The other day I drove into Lake Louise SP and almost crashed my car, for I saw a guy posing with a snake for his wife.
In my hurry to get to him before something happened, I didn't took my camera. His face learning that he was holding a Pygmy Rattlesnake was priceless. He was darn lucky that she was pretty relaxed about it...
Cheers and Happy New Year!

rick said...

this warm winter so far has the snakes and gators not knowing when to stay in or come out but our cold front hitting this weekend should give them the answer you called her her how can you tell the difference between female and male?

threecollie said...

Amazing. Scary. Lucky snake. You could have a second or perhaps third career with wildlife video.

nfmgirl said...

Beautiful girl you found there! And it just goes to show you that they really are not that aggressive. It's amazing how much you "did" to her, and she just restrained herself and showed you her pretty fangs and white mouth as a warning! Well, until the end when she finally decided to let you know that she'd had enough now!

Thank you so much for giving a "snake a brake". It seems to happen so rarely around here.

My greatest snake encounter was an 6-8' rattler as a teen, but I didn't get that close. I was trying to keep horses in the pasture away from it, because the squabble between a big stallion and an underling kept upsetting the rattler. The rattler and I traveled in a V formation, getting closer and closer to one another, until the rattler disappeared into a bush in front of me. Then I wisely backed off and left it alone!

Gotta love Florida!


Dani said...

Pure Florida Heaven!!
Thanks, I needed a smile this morning.

roger said...

nicely done fc. what a beauty.

robin andrea said...

Good job. I wouldn't have done it, but I would have worried and wished someone like you would drive by and get her off the road. She's a beauty.

Anonymous said...

Great photos!!

Would you know how I can get you Mp4 vids to play on a Mac. Having trouble opening them.

kathy a. said...

you must have given your mama heart attacks, growing up.

i know you're a professional wildlife-arian, but i could only watch the video for 20 seconds or so. evidently, there was a happy ending.

Aunty Belle said...


Sorry, I'se got too much Eve in me--doan do no snake thangs. That one has lived long, must be a mean one. Ugh!

But, that IS some video, FC.

Laura, VitaminSea said...

(hands on hips). My stars! I hope it was cold out, which would make him sluggish! What's the strike zone for a water moccasin?

And I'm afraid to show Rick this video, he's going to enjoy every second of it!!

tsiya said...

Looks like she is getting ready to shed. Are you old enough to remember when kids would catch snakes and the gator farm would buy them? We all wanted to be Ross Allen! My bunch roped a big gator once, with my daddy's anchor rope, the gator still has the rope!

Anonymous said...

Thanks FC. My heart rate just got so fast I don't think I need to exercise today.


Karissa said...

man my mom would have freaked to see that snake she would of turned around or gone off roading to avoid it not help it on its way. thats crazy.


Sayre said...

Blogger ate my comment this morning but suffice to say, it's been repeated here more than once!!!

SophieMae said...

WHOA! Jump back, JACK! Way cool! We tried to get a corn snake off the road once and he had the same reaction. But he wasn't venomous! The veejo was definitely worth the 20-minuute load time. (UGH, I hated having to come home to dial-up after a weekend in a WIFI-endowed hotel).

This week's mystery, BTW, is right up your alley.

SwampAngel65 said...

So cool. I brake for snakes and scoot 'em off the roads, too. These and pygmies are always interesting...they just don't seems to understand that we are trying to save their scaley hides! (BTW, not picking on you, but you have encountered one of my pet peeves. It's venomous, not poisonous!).

Love the video.That posturing is so typical of them, isn't it? They are one snake that definitely won't slither off in fear!

TROLL said...

Watched the video. Hope you don't do that with diamond-backs.

Deb said...

Amazing video. But I am glad it's way too cold for critters like that here.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Yow! My favorite moment in the video is when you whisper, "Just be glad it's not Bubba." She'd be a spot of grease on the road. Good work. She got all puffy on you.

Dan said...

Whew! I think I would have harassed it by throwing gravel. Magnificent snake.

elpbulls said...

Very impressive Pop! I bet this video drove mom nuts!! Love ya!

Rusty in Miami said...

WOW that was incredible. I have lived in Florida for the last 25 years and never seen one. I have heard plenty of stories.

ImagineMel said...

Is applying the brakes so I can back up and run over them again what you meant??

ImagineMel said...

Is applying the brakes so I can back up and run over them again what you meant??

Pablo said...

But why were you whispering to the snake?

SophieMae said...

Pablo... coz he's a snake whisperer, naturally. 8-]

Lady Jane said...

Very educational FC. Good to show people that it is OK to help wildlife, and not hinder, harrass or kill needlessly. I think (and I can be a bit judgmental I know), that there is something very wrong with someone that can run over another creature.. whether it's a lazy pigeon in the road or a gorgeous snake like that. Thanks for caring/saving it.

robin andrea said...

I just had to come back and watch that video again. Wow. She is really so beautiful. You did a really good thing, fc, and I like how you said goodbye to her.

Anonymous said...

Pablo beat me to the question...if snakes are deaf, why pray tell were you whispering?
PS: See ya in a few short weeks, maybe even next week. Haven't decided for sure yet

Julie Zickefoose said...

I have to laugh. You have a tag, "The Boy Ain't Right." Today, Bill of the Birds has one that says, "Why I am Insane." And mine today has a tag saying, "Zick being stupid." What is this, Flog Yerself Day?

Cathy S. said...

I just about choked on my dinner when that snake came heading my way. You are one crazy guy is all I can say. You better be bringing Mrs. FC a bunch of flowers home. Or some fish for her pond.

Anonymous said...

Three conclusions:

The snake is lucky

You are crazy

Your wife is a saint - but you knew that

Laura Again said...

All right! I just showed the pics to Rick who was impressed by her size, commented on what a beauty she is,and then reached for a pen to point out the pits on her face and other things he found interesting about her.

And then we watched the video and he waited till I was all tensed up (cause I knew she was gonna strike) and next thing I know, he'd jumped yelled "GAHHH!" which made me leap out of the chair and call him an s.o.b. (excuse me) which caused him to laugh uproariously.

But he really enjoyed the pics and video, Mr. Snake Whisperer. ;)

kathy a. said...

wren hit it on the head. everyone else has excellent observations, too. maybe i'll even watch teh video all the way through.

but seriously, Mrs. FC and Mama FC both get lifetime achievement awards. they each get to name their awards. and prizes.

Floridacracker said...

I hear that all the time and all I see is escape or stand your ground defense. Funny what gets passed down.

SCMomma, It impressed me back about two feet! LOL!

Just your average commute home from work...

I thought her markings were unusually distinct for a big moc too. I so need to get a snake hook.

Whew, good thing you were there!
It's a female in my mind mostly due to it's size. I could be wrong, but if I had to bet, I'd go female.
Plus I have this policy that anything beautiful that I'm not sure about the sex is by default ... female.
That's just me.

About to get really cold! See my response above ... size matters.

Pretty shaky tho ... with one hand on the tripod snake pusher and one hand on the camera!

Welcome to Pure Florida!
That was a big rattler you delt with in your teens!
Glad you appreciate the rescue. I'm so glad I chose to go warbler photo'n that day.

Hope all is well and I'm glad PF was able to supply the smile!

thanks. she was. is.

(twice) thanks for coming by. I keep watching it and I was there! Glad you liked it and I appreciate the kind words. Hope you are feeling better!

What are these Macs of which you speak?
Just kidding... I don't know the first thing about a Mac. Maybe a reader with one can help us out here.
Anyone? anyone? ...

Kathy A,
You gotta cowgirl up and see the strike near the end! Or not, up to you :)
My Mom? She's the one who let me have all manner of beasties as a lad.
God Bless her!

But ... I thought Eve and the serpent got along? :)
Glad you could appreciate the video even if snakes are not your thang.

LOL at that imagery! "Now listen here mister ..." Gawd, where have I heard that before? LOL
Sorry, not cold, note the short sleeved shirt.

Ross was my hero as a kid. Took him a young alligator when I was about 12.

This could be a whole new way of cardio exercising!

At least she'd not flatten it! Welcome!

Let me guess ... it had the word crazy in it didn't it?

Ugh, tell me about it ... I'm on dialup right now! Glad you liked the vid.
Nice pinfish.

You get me on that every time.

Fraid so. Longer stick tho.

Bet more people die from the cold than snakes!

I have no idea why I was whispering to an animal that can't hear me anyway. It just happened.

I really expected her to scoot at the first nudge.

Pretty much! LOL! Love you baby.

Glad you got to see this one!

That video made you so nervous you hit the publish button twice!

I was waiting for that and kinda figured it would be you!
Of course, Sophie has answered your question for me ...

Lady Jane,
Live and let live whenever possible.

Floridacracker said...

I have a habit of doing things I can't explain later... thought you knew that by now :)

FYI today is FYD! Have a great one!

Cathy S,
Now THAT is girl logic. I almost get bitten by a poi ... venomous snake and SHE gets flowers?

Okay, I can't argue with that order.

Laura Part Two,
Heehee! Good job Rick!
Would have made a good video too!

Kathy A,
I shall inform them to expect a prize announcer type person at the door with flowers and champagne.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post. I love that you gave the snake a brake and moved her. I grew up with those in my yard and once had a friend bitten when we cleaning out our "winter dirty" swimming pool. It was a baby and still it was a bad bite and a bad scene. Those cotton mouths have impressed me mightily ever since. If I had had my camera, I could have taken a picture of a cobra sunning on the steps outside our condo channel here in Singapore. She was pretty impressive as well.

nfmgirl said...

Alan-- You can supposedly watch mp4 files in both iTunes and QuickTime on a Mac.

(I was gonna ask my boyfriend, who has two Macs, but figured it'd be easier to just search online. Too tired to walk across the house!)


Floridacracker said...

Anon in Sing,
Yikes! A cobra on your steps! That would beat my moccasin!

caroline said...

Holy heart failure, Batman! That is one vigorous viper!

Check out
It is about 1 mile from our house and houses an amazing collection of herps. My absolute favorites are the 2 youthful Komodo dragons they have. If you ever want to be sized up as a possible menu item, just pay a visit to those two. They look at you with the most hopeful expression.
Big favorite with kids is Marilyn, the albino Burmese python, who frequently visits local elementary schools.

Catbird said...

"Yes, I know you're a Cottonmouth."

I love that. You did the right thing -- she, and you, were very impressive. I, too, am glad you're not Bubba.

I also got a kick outta the wigged out birds: "Snake! Snake! Crazy guy messin' with a Snake!"

So glad I found you through Julie Z's blog!

Ericka said...

lol. i've found myself in several situations wherein i'm trying to convince a snake to do something and i always talk to them too. why do we do that?

ooh, snake stick. i need one of those. for whatever reason, i found snapping turtles crossing the street with astounding regularity. i have a system now to move them. a decent stick living in my car would save me hunting one down...

s/he is beautiful - thank you for saving him/her!

Miz S said...

I am VERY LATE to the party and all the good comments are taken but I had to let you know I was here. Josh and I watched the video last night and did quite a bit of "Woah!" and "Good GOD!"

What a beaut. The snake, not you. Ha!

amarkonmywall said...

On the coat tails of Miz S! I've been hearing rumors of this fine video around the neighborhood but I was bogged down all day yesterday at the zoo. This is GREAT. I've watched it four times now. A spectacular post, FC! And right at 01:26-01:35 she's mad enough that you get a good view of that Jacobson's organ in the roof of her mouth- the snake version of a computer. This is a wonderful teaching video, too. Thanks! This made my day here in the tundra (grrrr). At about 10:10 tonight wave with optimisim; hopefully I'm getting out of this frozen nightmare.

cinbad122 said...

For something that is do a lot of talking to it!

Doug Taron said...

FC, if you're gonna go messing with venomous snakes, you need to keep a snake hook or tongs in the Jeep. While I heartily applaud you for moving it off of the road, I'm not really comfortable that you chose to do so without proper equipment and while distracting yourself from the task at hand by running your video camera. You may not have been way over the line on safety here, but you definitely walked right up to it, IMHO. Yeah, I know, I being a real killjoy here.

Heidi said...

Snakes are deaf? See there, I've learned something new and it isn't even noon!

Floridacracker said...

Sounds great. Love komodos.

Welcome to Pure Florida!
Neat that you can pick up on the bird calls!

Thanks for rescuing those critters!
I'm definitely shopping for a snakestick after I recover from Christmas deficit.

Miz S,
I knew you were talking about the snake!

Glad you enjoyed and thanks for noting that J. organ! I missed that.
Enjoy the warmth due you!

Your fault! You are the one who introduced me to parcel tongue.

I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this. I do appreciate your concern though.

Unseen details:
The tripod leg is extended to it's maximum distance, far outside her strike range.
The camera is zoomed hence the shaky picture, and I am a big boy with 50+ years on the planet, 40 of those with snake handling experience ... not that I would ever handle a venomous snake, 'cause I don't.

I will cross the line from time to time outdoors ,and do things that some might choose not to do.
That's my personal choice and I never encourage others to do that.
I don't apologize for it either.

In fact, I always include, as in this post, advice to not do such things.

Those who do should expect to reap the rewards of crossing lines as well as the punishment if they screw up.

Sorry if it made you uncomfortable, but we all choose how far we will go.

I choose to take calculated risks for the life experience reward they provide.

... and your opinion is always welcome here, killjoy or not :)

Floridacracker said...

The sense vibrations from the ground, not from the air as we do.

Anonymous said...

In the picture of the moccasin with her mouth open, she looks just like my mother in law.


ImagineMel said...

Um...and what would EVER make you think I watched the video??? NO CHANCE! I just wanted to make my point! :)

Floridacracker said...

Dang! I hope she doesn't read this blog! LOL!

I didn't think you would watch this one! :)

Doug Taron said...

FC- What they say about Southern gentlemen must be right. I don't think I have ever been disagreed with so graciously before. I'm happy to agree to agree to disagree (got that?) on this one. Obviously there's way more that you and I are very much on the same page about, especially regarding nature and the outdoors.

NativeMom said...

Thanks alot Florida Cracker! After reading this post, I woke my husband up frantically kicking in the middle of the night after dreaming I'd come across a snake.

Bet you didn't realize your posts could cause nightmares!

bluebird of paradise said...

Thank you !~ That was a real treat. I love the gentle way you spoke to her, even though she is deaf, I think she understood.

Rurality said...

Dude! You are gonna give me a heart attack, playing with moccasins. I did like the pics though - I didn't realize that those guys had a supraocular scale (eyebrow scale!) too.

Lynn said...

Great pictures!
I have a fun brainteaser for you and your student’s…Florida (and North America) does not have poisonous snakes.

Jacki said...

Lynn, I was thinking the same thing you are: snakes are not poisonous, they are VENOMOUS!! I hated to be the one to break to it FC, since he's so impressed me in the past.

Oh and FC, you should get a snake hook if you don't have one...they make you feel very important :)

Karen Walter said...

Hey this an adventurous snake I just loved the pic.
John assam
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Interested in learning many new things. Hope we all will share our
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Thanks for post. It’s really informative stuff.
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Aaron Ververs said...

Hey, brother-in-arms! I operate in a similar fashion in central Colorado; I've been catching snakes since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and it bothers me immensely to see them needlessly run over. I will stop to shoo bullsnakes, hognose snakes, racers and garter snakes off roadways - if there is regular traffic, I'll catch them and release them on the side of the road. I carry a snake hook for the local prairie rattlers and treat them the same; I'm not fast or brave enough to try to catch them by hand!

Chick said...

That guy needs slapped for letting that snake go. I hope if it bites anyone, it is him.