Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I never picked cotton....

It wasn't all big and little constrictors in Florida - I did come across some venomous. Below is an adult Florida Cottonmouth. If you listen to the tall tales about this species you may be surprised to learn it didn't chase me down, jump up and sink its fangs into my throat. This is a snake with a seriously bad reputation. In fact it was pretty chilled out probably because it knew what it was capable of.


Far more exciting than the big ones though are the beautiful youngsters, how stunning is this guy?


The youngsters all show these bold patterns and a beautiful chartreuse tail which may act as a caudal lure. Unfortunately you can't see that here as it adopted this defensive posture. The bigger one's don't coil like this so much - they just lay out and tip their heads. The name cottonmouth is derived from their white mouth. When really worried by something they will gape wide showing that off - hence one of their other colloquial names; trapdoor viper.


I can understand why people are concerned or afraid of sharing space with the larger north american pit vipers; a bite from one of these would be no fun. Especially if your health insurance coverage wasn't up to much. That said I can't imagine how anyone could miss the majesty and dignity of an animal like a big, healthy, fat cotton like the one above or the elegance of a juvenile like that below.

juv cotton2

These are primarily snakes of the wetland areas - the latin name hints at their fish-eating ways and they'll also take frogs and toads as well as small mammals if they get the chance. One to watch out for and enjoy by the bayous, 'glades, ditches and ponds.

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