In NC, we had 4 types of poisonous snakes: Copperheads, rattler,
coral and cotton mouth, depending on what part of the state you
were in. In Raleigh, where we lived, I never saw a coral snake
and think they were limited to the southern part of the state.
However, having lived one summer as a kid on an island in a
southern Arkansas bayou, I KNOW that a cotton mouth looks like and
how they act. The experts tell us that they don't exist as far
north as Raleigh. <grin>
One afternoon, I was walking down the creek behind our home toward
the lake. It was about a 1/4mile stroll and I loved looking at
the plants growing on the creek bank. As I rounded a corner, I
found myself about 10' away from two very fat cotton mouths
lounging in a dead tree in the creek. One slid off his branch
into the water and started swimming toward me.
Trust me, this old fat boy can walk on water when he's
sufficiently motivated. I 'walked' clear back to the house,
removing Mr. Browning's 12 gauge from my basement office and
returned to the creek. Both of my newfound friends were in their
tree again, so I liquefied both, saving the heads to show my
friend, who taught Biology at NCSU.
Copperheads were common as dirt in the yard and loved sliding
around under the pine straw used as mulch around the house's
foundation and naturally in the pine woods. You soon learned that
if you were going to remove the cover of a lawn sprinkler's valve
box, you did it with a screwdriver since a copperhead would
undoubtedly be inside. They'd always just slither away. None of
the family ever had a problem with them, other than being
surprised by them when you'd scare one up.
While the same fellow who had assured me that there were no
cottonmouths in the Raleigh area told me that there WERE rattlers,
I never saw any, and the same can be said for coral snakes, though
folk would see a King and mistakenly call it a coral. Remember,
red against yellow, kill a fellow. Red against black, venom lack.
It's the corals that have a very tiny mouth, but they make up for
it with a neurotoxin venom and were considered to be the most
deadly of the NC snakes.
As an aside, copperheads took a toll on dogs and particularly on
You cannot make a stupid kid smart by
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