Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Water Moccasin or Water Snake?

At the Lakeview Park Clean-Up, some residents were picking up some branches of a tree when a dangerous Water Moccasin slithered out and dashed into the water.

It might be useful to know one when you see it, but the differences between the venomous Florida Water Moccasin (or Cottonmouth) and the wholly harmless Water Snake can be subtle. Here are a few images and links that might help.

First, here's a Water Moccasin



Another shot of a Water Moccasin (click for a huge image):



Here's the plain old harmless Florida Water Snake:




Another clue (thanks Ray):

When in water, Water Moccasins move on top of the water - almost as if they were gliding on the surface, like this:



Water Moccasins are to be met with extreme caution. "When a moccasin is nesting or has her young in their nest it will aggressively defend that area," says Ray. "Moccasins have aggressively attacked people."

Water Snakes tend to be partly submerged, partly out of the water, more like this:



Click for more about the differences between Water Moccasins and Water Snakes.

More about Florida snakes here, here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Water Moccasins are to be met with extreme caution. "When a moccasin is nesting or has her young in their nest it will aggressively defend that area," says Ray. "Moccasins have aggressively attacked people."

That has GOT to be one of the stupidest statements I've ever read! Water Mocassins do NOT "nest"; they give birth to live young, which immediately leave, and the mother takes no more interest in them, nor they in her. These snakes do NOT protect their young or build "nests". I've been around, photographed and caught many Cottonmouths, and have never, ever had one "attack" or "chase" me. Dr. Whit Gibbons, a respected Herpetologist at the University of GA, even conducted a study on the bite tendencies of several native venomous snakes, and found that Agkistrodon piscevorus was actually very reluctant to bite. That riduculous statement above does nothing but further a wives' tale that is almost as ludicrous as that of Coachwhips chasing down and beating people to death with their tails!

S.A. McKenzie

Anonymous said...

This dude definately doesnt know what he is talking about. That first picture is a Copperhead, hint is the yellow tip tale that a juvenile copperhead would have. Another clue is how the bands on the side are wide, then as they reach the spine they become narrow