... of the unmitigated ignorance of many of those teaching your kids in the
US public school system:
While a 'water moccasin' is indeed one of the most misidentified snakes in
the US, you would think a *science teacher* would have enough common sense,
and *science*, to make a positive identification based on the *unique*
characteristics of the pit viper before letting kids handle one ...
something every country boy learns before six years of age in this part of
So much for the amount/quality of "science" in the science curriculum in
most schools these days ...
Now you had to go and bring up some memories of morons in schools and
Fresh out of high school, I worked for a time at a prestigous Catholic
University. Translation, a center for spoiled rotten rich kids.
They decided to have "cowboy night" in a dorm cafeteria one night. Since
nobody had any actual experience handling cattle, I got the job of wrestling
with a bunch of uncooperative cows. I got some of the other help to take
care of most of the cows. I ended up with a young, very rowdy calf.
As anyone who has ever had to deal with independently minded cattle knows,
reason and kind words are only marginally effective. Some rich white girls
decided I was being "cruel" to the calf, because I did not let it run wild
through the dining hall. I tried to reason with them. But they got a
couple of priests to come over and start harassing me.
I let them know in no uncertain terms that they did not know what they were
talking about. And I was under strict orders from my boss. The idiot girls
and priests said they would be responsible. I took names and a written
statement from them before I turned over the cattle. Then I went home.
The next morning several school officials and my boss (and his boss) were
waiting for me. Apparently these wimps started some kind of stampede with
several paniced cows in a crowded dining hall. A bunch of people got hurt
and had to go to the hospital to get patched up. Even the cattle required
I had names, I had a written order signed by the meddlesome priest. I had
even written up a report. I let them know that I was a farmboy surrounded
by morons. Nobody wanted to listen to me. And I told them if they were
nice, I wouldn't go to the media. Everybody suddenly became very nice to
me. I can't imagine how such a thing would occur in this day and age.
Hmmmm, another story.
We had a fourth grade teacher who was deathly afraid of any kind of animal,
particularly frogs and snakes. So we used to put them in her desk all the
Pit vipers are not that hard to spot and a pissed off
moccasin is nothing to toy with. Yes..they do look a
"little" like a water snake, but a rat snake ain't in
the same family.
This from a very old Boy Scout.
For another view of a Texas rat snake, see:
This one had decided to take up residence in the "facilities" up at my
cabin in Red River County, Texas. It was up on the wall and fell to
the floor in front of me when I opened the door (gotta tighten up the
fit on that door!). After levitating back about 3 feet, I checked it
out, and went to get a camera, figuring (correctly) that the pictures
would give SHMBO another reason not to come up there on the weekends
By the time I got back with the camera, the snake had crawled up to
the location you see, atop a pile of shredded TP left by our resident
SH Mouse between my visits to the cabin. In the last picture it's
busily crawling back up the sheer twoby, trying to get away. They are
impressive climbers and can go straight up the side of a tree at 10 or
15 feet a minute. The "broken stick" appearance of the snake in this
picture is, from my observations, characteristic when they're upset or
I can assure you that this snake looks nothing like a cotton mouth. I
have many of those guys down on my 70 acres of lake and, except for
very young ones, they're all real chubby, maybe 5", 6" or close to 8"
in diameter at 2-3 foot long and have large, ugly, triangular heads
atop fairly skinny necks. They all die if I'm quick enough, mostly
because, as a duck hunter, I'm down there way before dawn a lot of
times. They tend to hunt at night and you ain't gonna see them when
you're tromping around in the dark. I do not like the damn things!
The "guest" pictured was humanely removed and returned to the
surrounding woods undamaged.
I don't know what water moccasins look like in other states, but there
is no mistaking the South Florida variety with any other snake. Their
length to diameter ratio is very small (meaning a 3' long moc' is
about as big around in the middle as your calf), compared to the usual
And yes, the first thing anyone should learn before they're allowed
outside is to identify the triangular head of three of the four
poisonous snakes in this country. How much better to think a
triangular headed snake is poisonous if it isn't than to think a
triangular headed snake isn't poisonous when it is?
I used to carry a .22 in my golf bag years ago, playing on a course
carved out of what was essentially Everglades. They loved the sand
traps. The area's fully developed now, of course...
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