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The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond
Cottonmouth Attack

Cottonmouth snakes are poisonous and extremely aggressive. They get the name cottonmouth because when they prepare to strike they open their jaws wide, exposing the puffy white lining of their mouths. Alligators only get aggressive during mating season, but cottonmouths are in a constant state of PMS - they not only will NOT run away from you, they will seek you out and chase you down.

The white jaws of a striking Cottonmouth.
The white jaws of a striking Cottonmouth snake.
* Photo Credits


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for factual information regarding Cottonmouth snakes.

Most anyone would rather have an alligator in their boat than a cottonmouth any day of the week. I have heard a few snake-in-the-boat stories and they are about equally divided between "we all jumped overboard" and "I grabbed my gun and shot the boat full of holes trying to kill the snake". You learn to not only keep an eye on things moving on the water, but to perform a "snake check!" anytime you pull up under a tree. Some snakes (in a fit of whimsy, no doubt) like to drop from trees into boats to see how fast they can empty the boat out.

I was riding up a canal with friends one day, two airboats full of us. The other airboat was ahead and to the left of my boat. Looking ahead of us on the water I saw what might have been a tree branch floating...but wait! It was floating across the canal against the current!

As I watched, the "branch" sped up, raised it's head fully out of the water, and with jaws agape - it attacked the lead airboat!

Cottonmouth Snake
A Cottonmouth snake.
*Photo Credits

This was a BIG snake - it's body was about as big around as my forearm and the mouth was stretched open as big as my hand would spread. You could see the white of its mouth standing out sharply from it's dark body, and it's beady little eyes just blazed with malice!

The boat being attacked was "porpoising" on the water (the nose bouncing up and down rather than riding smoothly). The boat and the snake converged upon each other, and as the boat bounced up once more the snake struck! The snake raised itself several feet out of the water as it lunged with its mouth wide open ready to devour the boat.

This time the snake had tried to bite off more than he could chew. As the snake was striking at full force, the boat came down on its head. Bad news for the snake, good news for all of us.

(The man driving my boat that day told how one time a cottonmouth struck at his boat and accidentally got picked up by the prop and flung into the bottom of the boat. His story fell into the "abandon ship" category.)

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* Photo Credits : Cottonmouth snake photos used with permission of Gene Ott. For more information on snakes and frogs visit his website at: http://www.snakesandfrogs.com/

The Snake-Club Boys would like to submit: http://www.jbfishing.com/snakes/ for factual information regarding Cottonmouth snakes.

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