Saturday, August 14, 2010

Close Encounter of the Cottonmouth Kind - Mrs. RW vs. Cottonmouth

Mrs. RW had a close personal encounter with a cottonmouth yesterday evening while working in the yard. As she was checking her plants along a walkway that leads to the back door, she happened upon a young adult cottonmouth. Unfortunately, we try to avoid the needless destruction of nature’s creatures unless they invade our personal space.

The banding was still fairly distinct. It becomes less noticeable as they age and the markings will become quite dark. This one still had a slightly yellow tinge to the tip of its tail when examined closer by myself. All Mrs. RW knew was that it was time to take action when she saw the gaping white mouth and those big fangs. She knew instantly that it was a cottonmouth and wasted very little time in dispatching it with a chopping hoe, especially since local law enforcement takes a dim view of using a shotgun in the city limits. It’s best not to take any chances where a cottonmouth is concerned.

Less than 10 % of all Texas snakebite cases involve cottonmouths or water moccasins, as they are sometimes referred to by many people. Throughout the United States, less than 1% of all deaths by snakebite have been caused by cottonmouths.

Cottonmouths sometimes travel or move between areas in response to drier conditions. During the month of August it gets really hot and really dry in Central Texas. They also use the ambush technique, similar to copperheads, as well as being active foragers when seeking their prey. In this case, Mrs. RW has a water feature, a small pond, in the back yard and that was what probably attracted the cottonmouth to this area of the yard.

As a result of ever-increasing population growth and with the conversion of wildlife habitat for use by people, chance encounters with venomous snakes are going to occur more frequently. Many of these chance encounters are going to occur around the home and in your own backyard. As a result, the number of snakebites close to home will continue to increase unless people become more aware of the possible dangers. Keep wood and brush piles, trash dumps, etc. as far as possible from your home. Always exercise caution when working in your yard and make sure to use a good flashlight when moving around in the yard during early evening hours or at night.

Got cottonmouth and big fangs?

Staying above the water line!



Namenlos said...

Yep, I done that one before long ago. It is legal to shoot if the animal is a threat. I learned that one a while back. Yes one would get attention, but it is consider self-defense. I looked into because of dogs. I was curious if shooting an animal that presented a danger was legal because I see some neighbors who let their's run wild.

Anonymous said...

Good for her. I don't like any kind of snake. All of them can bite you if thretened or hurt.

riverwalker said...

To: Namenlos

You can legally shoot if absolutely necessary but Mrs. RW is equally skilled with a hoe from years of garden work. The main worry is my young grandson, who currently has a fascination with snakes and is a little young to fully realize the potential danger from them and may find one unexpectedly.



riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 12:10

It was only about 2 and a half feet long but still very lethal. Out at the farm, i tend to let them have their space as long as they don't get too close to the house or yard space.
Most of out at the farm stay down around the creek and usually aren't a problem.



Sharon in Mississippi said...

I have a great deal of respect for snakes and would only kill one if it were posing a direct threat. They do us a great service in controlling the rodent population.

Double Tapper said...

Have had to shoot two snakes on the property in the last 10 years. Both Cottonmouths in the creek. One was competing for fish on my trotline. The other was hissing and swimming straight at my crotch while I was wade fishing. Both were dispatched with Hornaday SJHPs from my .357.

I don't shoot non-poisonous snakes.

riverwalker said...

To: Sharon

The majority of snakes are quite harmless and are of greater benefit to us alive. If they pose a threat or a hazard (the poisonous ones), then you may have to eliminate that threat. The majority of snakes will usually seek to avoid a confrontation with you.



riverwalker said...

To: Double-Tapper

Usually try to avoid a confrontation but when they are 3 feet from the back door....that's a little close for comfort and a pretty unsafe situation.

With the drier conditions, I think this one Mrs. RW had encountered moved in from the creek which has currently dried up that is a few hundred yards away from the house...should have found a different home.



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