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Readers Write In: Relocation of a Surprise Venomous Visitor

A reader sent me this e-mail today and it was such a change of pace from what I usually receive I thought I would feature it as a blog post. It stands in stark contrast to most of the Cottonmouth myths we often hear about. Tell Harold what you think about his story below.

I guess we’ve been lucky for the several years we’ve had a
water garden at
our back door. We enjoy the frogs, toads, fish, salamanders, skinks and Yellow-bellied Watersnakes. So, early in the evening of August 29th when the fox terrier found this snake (on right) I first thought it was one of our resident Ratsnakes, just more brown than most, and I would catch it with a net and carry it away. Since I wasn’t sure of its identity I went for the camera so I could get a close look without being too close. Once I got the picture up on the computer, I was sorry I didn’t relocate this Cottonmouth, even though I wasn’t prepared for catching one. By then it had relocated itself, but I didn’t know where.

This one never showed any aggression, but we knew we needed to watch out for it and keep the dogs from finding it first. Where were all of those Kingsnakes I had seen last year?
About two weeks later my wife saw the snake early one morning warming itself on the concrete slab adjoining the house foundation, but by the time she alerted me to its presence it had once again relocated itself. I had made a catcher stick and knew exactly what I wanted to do with the Cottonmouth if I was able to catch it.
Last night the terrier located the snake again near the edge of the water garden. When I approached it the snake seemed very unconcerned and again showed no aggression. In fact, I had to poke it to get its head up so I could get my “lasso” around it. I put it into an empty garbage container. Still it showed no displeasure.
I carried it down the road and released it near a stream bed, where I hope it can establish a new home. It seemed anxious to get as far away from me as possible.
Harold Burrows
Williston, TN

I’m glad that this story has a happy ending but I do want to emphasize to everyone out there that I do not recommend capturing or handling venomous snakes unless you are skilled in doing so. 

For a break-down of the things you should consider to help ensure that reptilian relocations away from your property don’t result in death sentence for the snake, please check out my previous post on the subject.