Water Moccasin

Water Moccasin

I got a little tickled earlier after reading a public service announcement from our Florida Wildlife Commission. The announcement basically stated that poisonous snakes — especially cottonmouth water moccasins — cannot climb trees and went on to claim that stories of moccasins falling from tree limbs into boats are complete falsehoods; myths, they claimed. Now folks, the reason this tickled me is that I have first-hand experience on three separate occasions of having water moccasins fall into my boat.

But then, I grew a bit concerned. The announcement, published on the 18th of July, went on to claim that if a snake happens to fall into your boat, don’t panic as it will be a harmless water snake and you should simply assist it over the side to let it swim away. My concern is, should they really be telling people that? Should they tell people who may not know the difference, that any snake falling into the boat is harmless? It’s a great way to get somebody struck and envenomated. I’ve been struck by a cottonmouth — it sucked!

I’ve made my concerns very clear to our FWC’s public relations department and encourage all of you to be very aware around snakes. If you do not have the experience to know the difference between a venomous or non-venomous snake, then treat them all as venomous and avoid them. If you offer a wide berth and get away quickly, you will do just fine. Now please folks, note that I am not at all suggesting that you harm the snake. It truly saddens me when people kill snakes just to be able to say that you killed one.

Take rattlesnakes, for instance. Often, I see posts on social media of people posing with the carcass of large rattlesnakes killed for no other reason than because it was a rattlesnake. I’m no snake fan at all, but I do recognize their proper and necessary role in our ecosystem. Also, there just doesn’t seems to be nearly as many left in the wild places and that’s sad.

Please educate yourselves, family and friends on snake identification and ignore such irresponsible information from our FWC about venomous snakes not climbing trees, because they do. There are a few great tools online which can help you learn the distinguishing characteristics of our native venomous snakes, for those interested. The University of Florida’s www.UFwildlife.ifas,ufl.edu, www.whatsnakeisthat.com or

The point is, educate yourself on our slithering wildlife and whether you’re out in the woods, on the water or even in your own backyard, remain alert for their presence. If you spot Mr. No Shoulders whilst you’re out and about, just leave him alone and odds are you in turn will be left alone by him. And do us all a favor, any of you sportsmen and women who’ve had encounters with venomous snakes in trees or falling into your boat, take a minute to contact the FWC and set them straight at 850-404-6122. It’s our job to hold them accountable.

I surely thank you for all of your input and as always, if you have any feedback, give me a shout at RebelYellOutdoors@gmail.com. God Bless and Good Hunting!

Editor's note: A new photo was added to this story July 25, 2019, to show what a water moccasin looks like. The original photo incorrectly identified a brown water snake as a water moccasin.

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(1) comment

MJN48

I see you finally figured out what a water moccasin actually looks like. Mike Nielsen, Pine Ridge.

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