New and trying to ease fear of snakes and other questions

As it says, I went canoeing with scouts and now my son is hooked(Im a mom). We have kayaks. I am wanting to become more safe before i take him out without experienced people. Anyways, I plan on taking a few lessons and my friend and I (she has never gone before) are going to go out to get more comfortable.

Enough rambling, I am petrified of snakes. I know to leave them alone and avoid trees whenever possible. But anyways, is there a time of day we could go out where we would be less likely to see them or an avoid these times of day lol?

For the ladies and maybe manboob men- should we capsize, do the ladies get in the way of getting back in the kayak successfully? Do normal life jackets make it harder? I am sorry for my weird question.

We plan on just going to nice easy rivers and lakes and such near where we live. Any advice for a noob will be great. I don’t want to let my corny fears keep my from doing something fun with my son.

I have seen snakes while on the water, even some Water Moccasins (Cottonmouths). But I figure I have many multiples more occurrences of being in very close proximity to snakes that I’m not even aware of on land. While I can’t say it isn’t a possible danger, it’s not something I ever concern myself with while paddling on the water. And as much time as I spend on the water, I’d probably give it a 1000 to 1 chance of a snake bite happening in my back yard over happening while in my kayak or canoe.
While it’s true that anything that requires you to lift yourself further up to slide yourself onto the back deck of your kayak makes it more difficult to do so, we all are who we are, and it’s all just about having some technique to get yourself up there. Make the best of what you’ve got, and find a way. There are lots of variations on the whole process. The only wisdom is in knowing that your easiest way often isn’t her easiest way, isn’t his easiest way. Get out on the water in safe conditions, find someone who actually does, in practice, play around with re-entering kayaks and helping others do so, and you will figure some good things out in no time.

I’m sorry. Telling you to “find somebody” is no help at all. If you’re in the Cape Fear region, I would be happy to help y’all out with a few hours of kayak re-entry practice. If we know where you’re at, you might find someone, or get some good suggestions of someone at least.

Do the snakes in your area actually pose a threat to humans? I’m assuming you’re in the US somewhere, where there are quite a few more varieties. Where I am, in SW Ontario, Canada, we only have one poisonous snake that I’m aware of. They are reclusive, non-aggressive, and although you’ll have a bad day, the bite is rarely fatal for an adult within reasonable distance to medical assistance. At least, that’s what we’re told.

I’m afraid I have nothing informative to add.

@Muddybunz said:

For the ladies and maybe manboob men- should we capsize, do the ladies get in the way of getting back in the kayak successfully? Do normal life jackets make it harder? I am sorry for my weird question.

My feminine point of view: There are life jackets specific for paddling. They’re cut differently than traditional life jackets and are much more comfortable and efficient for paddling. One that fits well will not impede getting back in your boat. Also made in kids’ sizes.

There are methods to get back in your boat in deeper water - provided your boat has flotation in the bow and stern. You mentioned taking lessons - that will be one of the first things worked on. BTW, If you’re in CapeFear’s area - take advantage of his kind offer of coaching. He’s a certified instructor.

The only snakes I’ve met on land are in as much a rush to get away from me as I am from them.

It’s terrific that your goal is fun, safe paddling trips with your son.

Others here can give you all kinds of advice on PFDs and learning to be safer in your kayaks. As to snakes, let me tell you that I’m the kind of guy who goes out of my way just to see snakes and sometimes take pictures of them when paddling, and you know what? Snakes are darned hard to get very close to. Most are extremely wary and alert when they are awake, and if asleep and unaware of your approach, they sure flee in a hurry once they wake up. When I want to get close to a snake for a better look, I have to plan carefully and be very sneaky, and in spite of that, I seldom succeed in getting very close.

I have heard that water moccasins are a lot more fearless, or perhaps just more sluggish and thus willing to rely on their own defenses, but scare stories aside (and there are scare stories aplenty, told by people who hate and misunderstand snakes), they do not come charging from some distance to attack you. Any species of snake with a built-in tendency to do that would have gone extinct long ago. I’ve heard of two cases of snakes, even water moccasins, checking out a boat as a possible place to climb out of the water (two cases is not very many for 15 years of reading messages on this site), but they should be relatively easy to dissuade in such a case by poking with your paddle. Not knowing where you live, I can’t even say if you could encounter a water moccasin. Most of us are outside of their range.

So here is a link to some info on the only water snake that is poisonous (Cottonmoth/ Water Moccasin) in the US with a range map and photos. My son-in-law is a professor and Herpetologist. He took the photos and edited the article.

My wife and I canoe together and have seen them numerous times. I have photos of my own I have taken. I have walked in swamps and seen them as well. They have never been a problem though if they feel threatened they will coil and show the white inside of their mouth hence the name. I have never seen one in a tree, though I suppose one might find one there in a flood,

The water snake that is commonly found in branches overhanging water is the Brown Water Snake. It isn’t poisonous, nor are any other water snakes in the US. I am adding a photo of a Brown Water Snake in a tree my wife and I had to go under while canoeing. You can see our friends hat who had gone under the tree before us. The snake never moved even though 2 canoes went under the tree it was on. If you fear them stay in the boat you should be fine. Don’t panic just paddle away.

enjoyed the sneak snake video, I like me some TomTHall, the pride of Olive Hill Kentucky, never seen any sneaky snakes on tygart’s creek though. I don’t like snakes and I’m the son of a herpetologist! Best advice, watch where you step. Occasionally I’ve seen water snakes zipping around or going across the river but never felt threatened. Here in west virginia we have our share of copperheads and rattlesnakes. My count is probably up around 30 by now. Pretty common along the New and Gauley Rivers, I just watch where I step and I wear shoes. Yes, occasionally people do get bit but don’t know anyone that died from a bite but do know a five year old who died from a mosquito bite after playing in her yard (LaCross Encephalitis). My mom got Lymes disease from a tick. High grass areas might be somewhere you want to avoid for all those reasons- ticks, mosquitos, snakes, but the river or lake are pretty good to go,

In 5 years of paddling in New Jersey I’ve only ever seen 2 harmless brown water snakes.

Check out Astral Designs PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices/life jackets). They are favored by many ladies on this forum, and by my fairly well endowed wife.

The best way to conquer an irrational fear of snakes is to learn about them. A quick Google search will turn up plenty of information about the snakes in your region. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with them, find a zoo or other facility where you can see them and (hopefully) handle some non-venomous species. Once you understand them, your fear will ease and you can just maintain an appropriate level of caution. Keeping your distance from them in the wild is simply polite.

Thank you for your feedback, it eased the fears a bit. We live in northeastern nc so we do have some bad snakes. We do live near a swamp but snakes on land to me are different than water in evade and dissuade. Im a chicken lol.

Thank you for the info about the life jackets as well!

@Monkeyhead said:
I’m afraid I have nothing informative to add.

I needed sneaky snake this morn… :slight_smile: :slight_smile: Thx

I grew up next to a swamp in Charleston ,SC. From an early age it was our playhouse. I only remember 2 snake incidents from all those years.
One was a cottonmouth that I almost stepped on crossing a log… He showed me the cotton mouth and I showed him a load of #6 shot. Kinda wish I hadn’t done that.
The other was a copperhead that came after us on a path. We ran away.
Snakes get aggressive in the spring .
At some point I started rescuing non poisonous ones from people who were afraid or about to kill them.
Just realize that even the poisonous ones are not interested in you and will only bite in self defense. Their poison is the way they capture food and they know you are too big to eat.

I love the outdoors, and I’ve seen at least one of every type of venomous snake on the east coast. That said, they aren’t very often sighted. Watch where you put your hands and feet, allow your footsteps to be heavier than normal when in the brush, don’t move or turn over logs or rocks without diligence. Don’t scare a snake, and it won’t scare you!

The only time snakes have been a problem was when I was messing with them.

On getting back in the boat… people often find canoes to be more challenging to re-enter from the water than kayaks. Taller side, no flat deck to sprawl on… it can be done but best to assume that you will have find some guidance and do some practice. Worse that happens is you find it easy and get to brag about it. Until then stay where you can walk/swim the boat and you to shore.

Ms Muddy, I think northeastern NC is paddling nirvana – those beautiful blackwater rivers and swamps. The Cashie River at Windsor – what a treasure! Easy paddling too. Virtually no current. (Have not seen a snake there.)
I’m thinking you could find some kayak instruction fairly nearby, over on the Outer Banks in Nags Head or Kitty Hawk. You could ask for leads at the outfitters over there. (I don’t know them personally but have run into competent-seeming guides.) You would gain a lot of confidence from learning how to get yourself back in your kayak if you ever fell out.
And you mentioned your son is a Scout? Nice canoe camping for Scouts would be at Merchants Millpond State Park, which has paddle-in campsites (and alligators!) and in the Dismal Swamp at the little dam at the start of Lake Drummond. You can camp for free on the lawn there. The paddle up the Feeder Ditch is sheltered.
Good luck!!! Don’t worry anymore about the snakes.

I just remembered this:

First cartoon in the upper left.

I have lived in Arizona most of my life.
I have done tours in jungles and deserts all over the world.
In all this decades, I have seen exactly 3 snakes.

  1. a rattlesnake hiding under a bush. And I saw that only because two women were standing by that bush screaming and terrifying that poor snake.
  2. a garter snake swimming across a bay on a lake.
  3. another garter snake eating tadpoles in a mudhole in town after a rainstorm.

Snakes are very good at avoiding and hiding from people so I never worry about them.