Agkistrodon piscivorus is a heck of a name isn’t it? No wonder we call it by its common name the cottonmouth. Fishing and outdoor activities are fast upon us as spring creeps up in Texas so too are the encounters with cottonmouths.
The cottonmouth goes by many names in Texas, cottonmouth, water moccasin and blunt tail to name a few. The cottonmouth is the most encountered venomous snake in Texas. Hunters, fishermen, backpackers, hikers, farm workers, ranchers and even just folks working in their yard are very likely to run into old Mr. No Shoulders at any given time and that makes it the most dangerous snake in Texas in my opinion. Not because they are the most venomous but because they are the most common.
Cottonmouths like cool dark damp places during the summer months which means garages, sheds, carports, boat sheds, docks, deer stands and anything stacked up, piled up or laying around the yard are very appealing hiding spots. These spots are appealing to their pray so they are appealing to them. By taking some simple precautions can save you a trip to the ER and about $100k in antivenom and hospital bills and possibly save the lives of a lot of snakes that believe it or not are very beneficial to the environment.
Agkistrodon piscivorus is the only venomous fresh water snake in America but they are not limited to staying in and around the water. I have found Cottonmouths miles from the nearest water source. They help keep vermin which infest low lying areas and waterways in check.
Keep your yard clutter at a minimum and keep the weeds and brush near and around any water source trimmed and in order. Place good lighting in and around docks and boat houses. Place out rat poison in your garages and buildings.
Place some mothballs under buildings and houses. Even mothballs around your yard works to keep snakes at bay. You see snakes taste the air with their tongues and mothballs put off such a strong unpleasant odor it masks the scent of prey so they star away. Wearing boots that come above mid calf when in the woods or working around water can help keep fangs out of your skin in a bad situation. But the biggest advice I can give is leave them alone. Too many times I have read of someone acting ignorant and showing off when they had no real training or knowledge in handling them or someone with a yard rake missed their mark and received a good bite for their trouble.
I have been handling snakes for almost 30 years and even I still get a bit nervous around them.