Friday, June 13, 2014

Juvenile Water Moccasin / Cottonmouth

There are snake photos below, including a really blurry one of a snake eating a toad. 

This morning, a thunderstorm woke me, so I hurried out of bed to unplug the important (expensive) electronics.  (Oh, the joys of summertime!  A thousand unpluggings and re-pluggings and unpluggings again!)

Then I opened the kitchen door to peek at my daylily seedlings.  (I'm a bit paranoid about having them rained on too heavily, so I have a beach umbrella over them when there's a risk of rain-- but I'm also paranoid that the umbrella will catch a gust of wind and up-end the whole table... It's a situation fraught with tension, as you can tell.) The seedlings were fine-- but what was that under the table? 

A snake!
I thought it might be just a "brown water snake", because Donald saw one down by the puppy pool a couple of weeks ago (or so).  I woke him, and we looked at it briefly (through the rain-dimmed early-morning light) and said it must be another (relatively harmless) brown water snake.  So back to bed.

But I still wasn't sure.  I prefer the Internet for snake-photos, but the computers/Internet were unplugged-- and it was still thundering-- so I turned to our trusty reptile ID book.  (Nowhere near as good as the Internet, but better than my faulty memory.)  Anyway, the more I looked, the less certain I was.

Another look.  I tried to take photos, but most of them were blurry...

At this point, the snake had his mouth full of toad, so I ventured a little closer... and caught the glint of the eye.

Juvenile Water Moccasin

Back to wake up Donald, because now I was pretty sure it was a moccasin.  Sure enough that I wanted the thing dead, at least, and if it turned out not to be venomous, well, as Donald said, it didn't need to be hanging around the patio, anyway. 

Donald chopped the head off with a hoe and a shovel-- which proved harder than suspected, so we need to sharpen that hoe!-- and we were finally able to get a really good look.

Juvenile Water Moccasin

Definitely a juvenile moccasin.  (Or cottonmouth... Are the names used interchangeably, or is there really a difference between the two?  This one's mouth didn't look white when he opened it during the... "death struggle"... but that's probably because it was stained with toad blood.  Gross.)


Just makes you wonder how long it's been hanging out around our yard... Where it had been yesterday, when the dogs were out and about-- or when I was playing around with plants while wearing open-toe/bare-ankle, slip-on shoes...

Here's the best photo I got during the "trying to ID" period:

Juvenile Water Moccasin

So watch out.  They're definitely out there (as if we didn't already know it)!

ETA:  Those paver-bricks the snake's on are 8 inches long, if you're trying to get a feel for how big it was.  Not that big, in other words.