Large Venomous Snake In The Grass

Never forget that living in harmony with nature is a one way street. Letting a venomous snake share your space does in no matter guarantee that the reptile is willing to do the same for you. Once you understand the nature of the snake you’re more likely not to do those things which trigger violent behavior, but accidents happen. Misunderstandings between human beings and large armed serpents usually results in pain for the former and death for the latter. People are killed on occasion by snake bite but it is so rare I discount it was a probability.


Saturday night, just before too dark to see clearly I stopped to move a fence post off the trail that serves as the driveway I share with my neighbors. They are always putting up fences, or repairing them, or taking them down, so I thought I’d move the post to where they could find it. The post crawled away before I got to it, which leads me to one of two conclusions, neither of which really and truly excites me. The first is fence posts have suddenly become animated. This bodes ill for me keeping the dogs out of the pond where gators dream of dog food, and it bodes worse for me keeping the dogs off the highway. The second possibility is there is a very large creature resembling a fence post living near my house. Again, this leads to one of two conclusions, and once again, neither has their good points. I’m dealing with an above average Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, or a very large Cottonmouth.


I rather deal with the rattlesnake. Get rid of all the fluff about the potency of the venom, which sometimes can be misleading, and when it gets right down to it, the Eastern Diamondback is one of the most dangerous creatures to encounter in the wild, or for that matter, anywhere else. Sure, there are snakes that can deliver venom much more toxic, but many have poor delivery systems. Some are smallish snakes incapable of producing not only the amount of venom needed and they do not have the punch to get it through. The Eastern Diamondback is the total package. It has the ways and means to kill a grown human being outright. If it hits you with everything it has, you are going to die before anyone, anywhere, can do anything. Dogs die quicker. The upside is that left to their own devices, the Eastern Diamondback will go to much trouble to avoid humans, and dogs. Given the chance to either strike or not strike, I have seen these animals allow humans and dogs the chance to go their own way. All the bullshit aside these are not creatures looking for a bite. Best of all, they have an advanced warning system that is as loud as it is unmistakable.


If I have a Cottonmouth that large that close this is trouble I have not known. Their venom is gauged to kill cold blooded prey, but that does not mean a very large Cottonmouth cannot pump enough juice into a person, or a dog, to kill either and or both. Worse, they are fairly long fanged, and when they bite, they sometimes grip their prey with their mouths. A rattlesnake will punch through and release. You do not want a five foot long Cottonmouth attached to your body. My main reason for not wanting this critter around me is the Cottonmouth can be aggressive to the point of being truly dangerous. They will either run away, stand their ground, or they will attack. You do not get to choose, and in fact there is no way of telling which they will. There is no other North American serpent I am familiar with who will attack a larger animal with the confidence of success the Cottonmouth carries. They charge without warning and without reason. The possibility of there being a giant Cottonmouth that close isn’t very large but it is a possibility that cannot be ignored without great peril to my mutts and to me. The dogs have never dealt with this sort of threat before. I’m uncertain of the outcome, but it is one I fear.


If it is a rattlesnake it will not stay close to the pond but more away into drier territory. My backyard, and dog’s fenced in area will hold nothing but danger to the snake and it will not willing stay close. There are no prey animals inside the fence so the rattlesnake will go away. The cottonmouth might, just might, have enough of an attitude to challenge the dogs for the sake of doing just that, or it might come into the fenced area looking for the water snakes that live within the dog’s protection. The dogs won’t kill water snakes, but they will chase away predatory water fowl, and they have killed smaller Cottonmouths before. A five foot long Cottonmouth will have an average range no greater than half its body length, but this is an above average snake just in size, and it may be an above average striker. The Peterson Field guide offers this piece of advice on a Cottonmouth and no other species: Never handle a live one!


I live in harmony with nature at my place but it is a one way street. The recent addition of a large venomous reptile to the habitat is not one that joins us with an invitation or with any rejoicing. If I encounter this animal I must capture it, and remove it to a safer location. Either species is going to react poorly to this plan. I haven’t caught a snake this size in a very long time, and much planning must take place before I try, yet if this afternoon when I get home from work, if the snake is there, I must seize the opportunity and the serpent. The one way street just got more narrow, more dangerous, and more slippery. Is it worth this risk to live the way I have so chosen?


I tell you that it is.


Take Care,


StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 7/16/2008 11:28:40 PM
Thanks for the warnings Mike. I try to stay away from any and all snakes, for I just don't like them, PERIOD! I found a small dead snake in my kitchen 2 weeks ago (My 2 cats are good for something) and I don't know how it got there. 3 days later I happen to be flicking channels and I come across the worlds deadliest snakes on Animal Planet. They showed a 24ft. Reticulated Python that could crush a man in minutes to death. Also shown was a Black Mamba whose venom is so deadly that if you don't get help ASAP, you are dead for sure. It's the little things in life that count...and can kill.

Mike Firesmith
writing Mike Firesmith
I write
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