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Old 09-21-2009, 10:38 PM
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Default How to tell Water Moccasins and Copperheads apart



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For people that do not get into the woods very much, getting a copperhead and a water moccasin mixed up might be an easy thing to do. So what this article is going to do is give a basic run down on both types of snakes.




The examples that are going to be covered are from my own personal experiences from being in the wilderness and not from scientific studies. So take this information as opinion and not as fact.


The snake in the picture is a medium sized cottonmouth, I have seen them a lot larger then that. One cottonmouth my buddies and I killed and measured – it was close to 4 feet long and as big around as a mans wrist.
Cotton mouths have a head big enough to grab onto your leg, your arm,,, just about anywhere.


The Cottonmouth Water Moccasin can be easily confused with a water snake. They have almost the same exact color pattern. One has a round head and the other has a diamond shaped head.


From what I have noticed, you have a good chance of finding a Cottonmouth Water Moccasin where there is still, standing, shallow water – like a bog or a slew. That is because of the frogs. Frogs like shallow water with mud so they can hide. The snakes will get up on the banks and wait to ambush the frogs.


Copperheads rarely get over 2 feet long, and no thicker on about 1/2 – 3/4 inch, and are a copper color instead of black.


Copperheads have a small head for eating insects, as compared to the cotton mouths larger head for eating bull frogs and anything else.


Copperheads mostly bite around the toes and fingers – this is because they have a small head and bite where they can get a good grip. Most bites from copperheads are from people picking them up and handling them. This might also be why most bites are on the fingers or toes. Toes from people stepping on the small snake, and fingers from people picking them up.


During the fall the copper color of the copperhead blends in with brown leaves on the forest floor. So its easy for people not to see them.


Most of the time copperheads will be found under a log, under a piece of tin, under a piece of plywood, or next to a log. In other words they like to get under stuff. I think it might be because hawks and other large birds eat copperheads, but I’am not sure on that.
Old 09-21-2009, 10:48 PM
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I greatly appreciate the information. I showed my wife and sons the photos and information.

My combat boot has met Mr. Copperhead in the Fort Chaffee, Arkansas woods before. It scared the crap out of me when it bit the edge of my boot sole. I was sweating pretty bad that day but I think that not all of the moisture in my pants was from sweat.
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:50 PM
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Shucks, I've seen a cottonmouth that took one of our jug baits. Saw jug on shore, landed, grabbed hold and pulled, there was cottonmouth coming along with it. Cut jug line and let him keep hook and bait. Tout de suite.
Old 09-21-2009, 10:53 PM
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Powerful Powerful thread Kev

Thanks

later
wayne
Old 09-21-2009, 10:55 PM
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Thanks for clearing that up.

Being from the midwest - I have only seen a water moccasin once when I was 12 years old. From the pics in the snake bite first aid post - the water moccasin looked like a copperhead when they get cold. Snakes get darker due to the low body temperature so thats why I got the two mixed up.
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:01 PM
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well at least i dont have to worry about water mocasins n copper heads, just rattlers. n they generally let u know where they r at
Old 09-22-2009, 04:47 PM
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What difference does it make? I'll give both a wide berth
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Old 09-22-2009, 04:59 PM
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Copperhead:


Water Moccasin:
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:12 PM
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The Anti-Venom for snakes is dependent on what species it is.

That might be the importunate.

To quote Indiana Jones "I hate snakes"

Phoenix's Snake-Be-Goner
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:33 PM
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They use the same anti-venom for the pit-viper family in the states. They have a commonality.
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:33 PM
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Unless I am about to eat one, I just stay away from all snakes all together.
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:47 PM
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Cotton mouths vary alot in color and region. "Generally" the bigger/older they get the darker they get. Young ones could be similar in size to copperheads as well as have the bright color. The best way I've found to identify a cotton mouth from any other snake is the stripe on the face. Many water snakes have similar color but not that mask appearance. Boby shape can be a quick indicator as well. Most cotton mouths are very stocky and heavy where copperheads and other water snakes are thin for their length. Cotton mouths usually have a stubby looking tail because of their bulk. Their bulk is the reason they don't climb trees. They can climb but i have yet to see one and i have caught thousands cause i get paid to. If it falls from a tree, its a safe bet that its a water snake of some sort.
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:57 PM
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Great post Kev. Only place I will disagree is with the size of the Copperheads. In Coastal North Carolina we commonly see them close to 4ft and several inches thick. They are generally pretty timid and will get gone before you get close. On cool fall mornings use extra caution as it takes them some time to warm up. They will lay under the leaf cover until their body temp comes up, and you will often step on them before they move.

FWIW I hav been bit twice by Copperheads and once by a Cottonmouth. The infection from the Cottonmouth was worse than the venom. Cottonmouths will eat dead birds/frogs/fish, and their mouth is full of bacteria. Both bites from Copperheads were from larger snakes (both over 3ft) and were "dry" bites. (no venom injected). This is common with Copperheads as it takes them alot of time to make more venom.

In any case, PLEASE do not kill a snake of any kind unless you have to. Many of the snakes we have in the USA are nearly endangered. When left alone, they will leave you alone.

t2e
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenixhawk View Post
The Anti-Venom for snakes is dependent on what species it is.

That might be the importunate.

To quote Indiana Jones "I hate snakes"

Phoenix's Snake-Be-Goner
Best advice I've heard for getting snake bite treatment is to bring the (dead) snake in with you.

Best advice I can come up with on be-gone-ing snakes is to just BURN THE WHOLE FOREST DOWN. KILL IT WITH FIRE.
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:07 PM
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Lets don't stop there! Lets drain the oceans also, cause of all those bastard sharks and jellyfish!
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:35 PM
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I've seen small copperheads and very large copperheads, timid ones and very aggressive ones.Theres also a water snake colored very much like a copperhead. I wish I knew it's name for you.We have timber rattlers around here, which made for some very funny moments one late august watching my brother drop his treestand and throw his gear at one rather large rattler.
Old 09-22-2009, 07:25 PM
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Check out these flickr images. Page three has a juvenile cotton mout hthat looks like a copperhead. It also shows alot of different colors of cotton mouths. I have looked at all the pics and they are all labeled right as to the best of mt knowledge.
http://www.flickr.com/groups/1169855@N22/pool/page3/
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 72shane View Post
Lets don't stop there! Lets drain the oceans also, cause of all those bastard sharks and jellyfish!
Nuke'em from orbit....It's the only way to be sure....
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:30 PM
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All north american pit viper bites are treated with the same anti-venom, crofab.

I never thought they were hard to tell apart, at least the adults. The little ones however are a bit of a pain because Copperheads and Water Moccasins are actually very closely related and take a trained eye to tell apart. The good news is that even though the little ones are still venomous, both have a bright yellow tip on their tail. Any small non-venomous snakes will not.
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JedLMF View Post
They use the same anti-venom for the pit-viper family in the states. They have a commonality.
The could be entirely accurate. Thankfully unlike spiders I've never been bitten by a venomous snake. But makes sence that the same one would be used for the same family of snakes.

Either way, whenever your bitten by a snake or spider if at possible try and capture or photograph the critter that did it. Even if you already mushed it to death on the bottom of your boot.

Most Anti-venom's are dependent on the critter.

( Public Service Announcement )

Remember kids, the only good snake is a....

Shelby Cobra
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