Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law

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picture of a cottonmouth


The Cottonmouth


No other snake has given me more enjoyment in the field than the Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorous). I have spent many spring days in the swampy areas of Eastern North Carolina hunting them. Usually with great success as they are really common, especially around bodies of water in remote areas. I have caught as many as 25 in a single day & observed many more lying on logs, swimming, basking in bushes etc. It can attain a length of 6ft & can be a rather formidable foe. As viscious as it is when approached in the wild, it has been my experience that they calm down after a short while in captivity, making a very good captive. The bite of a Cotonmouth causes extensive tissue destruction & nasty secondary infections such as gangrene are not at all uncommon. When encountered in the wild it often holds its ground & will not hesitate to strike if aprproached too closely. Many of my fellow snake keepers don't like the Cottonmouth because of its ill temper & the fact that it is not the prettiest snake you'll ever see. I on the other hand have always liked the nearly complete black appearance of this snake & rank it fairly high on my list of favorites. The typical gaping when angered that is so widely talked about, hasn't been observed in the wild that often by myself. However it has been observed to vibrate its tail in the leaves. It has a sidewinding sort of strike that is sort of hard to see coming. This snake is very dangerous & is best left alone. They are so abundent in some locations that even being careful it is easy to come upon one & nearly step on it. This is especially true of the smaller specimens. It is a very heavy bodied snake that closely resembles some of the other large nonvenomous watersnakes throughout its range. This has led to the killing of countless harmless watersnakes, because they are mistaken for Cottonmouths.

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