Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Water Snakes vs. Water Mocasins


For this post I decided not to give dates and times because if you live in southern Louisiana its pretty apparent that you'll see a water snake everyday if you know where to look. Water Snakes are a very diverse species, you can find several different patterns and sizes among them. My top two favorite kinds of water snakes are the banded and diamond backed species. If your not sure where to look for one, try any sunny area near or in a creek, canal, ditch, or river. Another promising start is anywhere near slow moving water. Mistaking the water snake for the water mocasin, aka cottonmouth, is one of the most common and apparent errors made when identifying Louisiana snakes . I've provided several pictures of water snakes and one of a water moccasin along with a quiz to test whether or not you can distinguish between the two. Here are some pointers. First check the pupoles, water snakes have circular pupoles while water mocasins have eliptical or cat like eyes. Next check for pits, water snakes are non-venomous, so you won't find any on them, but the water mocasin is a member of the pit-viper family, which has pits for sensing prey. Finally, the last, but not suggested method of determing whether the snake is a water snake or water mocasin is checking its scales. If you flip a venomous snake in Louisiana over you will find that its scales are single, undivided all the way past its anal plate while a non-venomous snake is not. Besides all the anatomical differences, you'll find that a Cottonmouth or Water Mocasin will not run away from you as quickly as a water snake. But I wouldn't count on this either, the water snake on the rock in the picture above actually came on land next to me while I was fishing took my bait and went back in the water. That was pretty much an exception to what I've found elsewhere. All other water snakes I've encountered quicky drop into the water before I have any shot at catching them. One last note here, which is why water mocasins are called cottonmouths, is because when agitated they open there mouth real wide and show off the inside of there mouth which is as white as cotton.


In Love With Nature 311 said...

yes all great facts

1. and just to add on that water snakes normally swim with their bodies submerged under the water and water moccasins rarely ever submerge there bodies

2. water moccasins are relatively short and very fat/wide snakes while some water snakes can reach up to 6 feet long and remain a whole 3 inches thick

3. and as u said before water moccasins are not afraid to defend there territory they are relatively slow snakes and dont have any reason to get out of the way of any human, as for water snakes are very skittish and normally you can barely come with in 3 feet of them which makes them a real pain in the ass to catch

4. o i almost forgot looking at your pictures it is hard to tell but the "tail" of a water moccasin tapers to an extreme after its anal plate or were they take a piss from

im sure you already knew that brook haha but i thought i would add it anyway


SwampMaster said...

Thanks for the great post Dallas, keep it up I always love learning more about snakes!

Anonymous said...

not sure if you're still managing this, but i'm trying to identify a snake i saw today on a run. he was thin, his round eyes made him seem non-venomous, and less than 2 feet long. he was darkish and had bright orange bands...

he was hanging out on the bank of a pond when i approached running on a trail along the side of the pond. he slipped into the water before i reached him but didn't swim away. instead he watched pass as he slowly swam near the bank.

i'm a native northerner who relocated to baton rouge about 3 years ago, and not used to the prospect of poisonous snakes. I tend to get a tad nervous every time I encounter a snake at all.

if you know what I saw, it would be greatly appreciated.

Water snake said...

There are many types of water snakes found in the world and water snake one of them. A snake could strike you from a distance of half of their body length.