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I used to have annual encounters with cottonmouths when regularly fishing oxbows off the MS River during my younger years around Memphis & even here in middle GA. I've had several climb or drop into the boat wanting me out of their territory but I managed to take care of them or get them out of the boat & I then moved on. My potentially worst times were turkey hunting. Both times the low temperatures saved me. First I was just removing leaves from under a tree to sit down when I noticed in the low light that the roots were moving around a little - I just let that cottonmouth have his spot and moved to another tree. He was just too cold & stiff to get me. The 2nd time I had cut some cane & stuck it in the ground to serve as a little camo blind in front of my sitting position. After the sun came up I started seeing some movement out of the corner of my eye but I was looking past the cane thinking it was out in the woods. I finally focused on the cane & noticed the little cottonmouth curled up in the top of the cane about 6 inches from my head. I just picked out that stalk of cane and threw it away from me because I had a gobbler talking to me. In fact, I killed a nice tom that morning but it could have been a bad morning except for sub-freezing early morning temps which are unusual both in west TN & middle GA during turkey season.
And the real give-away if you have an aggressive cottonmouth after you is the open pearly white mouth - water snakes don't mimic that pearly white mouth.......
Last edited by Granddaddy; 06-05-2013 at 01:42 PM.
David Didier, GA
Cottonmouths occur west of the Trinity, but they're not very common. They peter out through central Texas as you move west and don't occur in west Texas. One of the snake guys at Univ of North Texas (Denton, TX, north of Dallas/Ft. Worth, where I went to grad school) told me they were hard to find in that area. He also told me they preferred running water over still water or still water over running water, but I can't remember which it was. He'd been bitten a couple times by cottonmouths when he was catching live snakes in water. Not something I've ever really wanted to try, but all the venomous snake scientists I've known have been bitten at least once. There must be some unwritten rule that snake guys have to get bitten to earn street cred among their colleagues.
In Texas, just about everything bites, including the plants (e.g. bull nettle) and things that are practically invisible (e.g. chiggers.) Eastern Washington is so much more benign.
Kelly Cassidy (person)
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Lonesome Dove both the book and movie were fiction. The first river they would have crossed would have been the Nueces which is extreme south Texas.
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I am from West Texas, San Angelo, and I can promise you we have Cotton Mouth snakes.
Have a grad student right now that catches them and does experiments with them alive.
They have been pretty common in our area. My Dad was a science teacher and we went snake
hunting quite a bit. Some day I will post some pictures that are pretty interesting
When I see them or a poisonous snake we dispose of them, but not non-poison as they
are here for a reason. That coming from someone who survived a poisonous snake bite while going thru
chemo therapy and to this day almost faints at the sight of any snake.
Last edited by jollydog; 06-05-2013 at 05:13 PM.
Retrieve a Cure
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I've heard stories similar to the TX geography range the same down here in GA. Some biologists swear there are no cottonmouths in N. GA. So when I killed one on my pond near Canton GA years ago, I took the snake to the GA DNR biologist who was so adamant about their range and asked for him to identify the snake. His explanation was that was indeed a cottonmouth but it had to have been killed somewhere else......
David Didier, GA
Originally Posted by John Kelder
Attachment 13482Friendly neighborhood that Demopolis is
I dont believe this is a WM. or the one on the left in the first picture. Looks more like a banded water snake. Also, in most states it is against law to just kill snakes unless you are in danger.
The picture of snake listed in master c is not a cottonmouth. It is a nonvenomous water snake.
Rick hall posted great photos. The first is a pissed off water snake trying to mimic a water moccasin. Doing a great job I might add. The water moccasin in the next picture is typical swim style. Venomous snakes swim on top off the water, non venomous swim with their body under water and head poking out of water.
One of my graduate students is from San Angelo, and he has brought water moccasins from there and in the concho river valley back to our laboratory.
Please don't kill all snakes, your mammal pest problems will go up, but if you must kill one please do it safely. I deal with a lot of testosterone laden young males that got bite while killing the snake with a hatchet or machete. It is never pretty.
I've learned from this thread. I'm afraid I killed quite a few that I thought were moccasins but were harmless. My guilt overwhelms me.
I have learned I need these dogs much more than they need me. Tim Bockmon