I came across this Northern Cottonmouth while driving the tour road at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. Another person was driving ahead of me and this snake stopped when they passed it. This gave me a chance to stop and make this photo. The snake already had its head raised from the other vehicle passing by. This Cottonmouth also stopped in a perfect spot for me because of the sunlight shining through the trees. I believe the other driver was a photographer because I saw him later with a camera with a long lens. I also don’t think he even saw this snake.
Northern Cottonmouth Facts
- When sufficiently stressed or threatened, this species engages in a characteristic threat display that includes vibrating its tail and throwing its head back with its mouth open to display the startling white interior, often making a loud hiss while the neck and front part of the body are pulled into an S-shaped position.
- Other defensive responses can include flattening the body and emitting a strong, pungent secretion from the anal glands at the base of the tail.
- They often emerge at sunset to warm themselves on warm ground (i.e., sidewalks, roads) and then become very active throughout the night, when they are usually found swimming or crawling.
- Contrary to popular belief, they are capable of biting while under water.
- Although deaths are rare, the bite could leave scars, and on occasion, require amputation.
- The pain is generally more severe than bites from the Copperhead, but less so than those from rattlesnakes.
- Bites from the Cottonmouth are relatively frequent in the lower Mississippi River Valley and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, although fatalities are rare.