Do any of you who kayak on rivers ever have any problem with snakes? I saw a huge water moccassin the other day, but he didn’t bother me and I didn’t bother him. Of course, when I told people about seeing the snake I was flooded with stories about their aggressiveness. Do any of you have any stories to tell?

rut roh
Pandora’s box of snakes opening up…

Here’s what I know from a previous thread:

Water moccasins have a thing for canoes.

Water moccasins will keep pace and even overcome a canoe.

If you carry a gun, the water moccasin will sense this and back off.

So I should maybe…
buy a pistol. Maybe I should add that to my collection of paddling equipment?!

my only experience
Was being approached by a huge blue racer.

It went one way as fast as I went the other way.

Mine was definitely a moccassin!

– Last Updated: Jan-23-08 12:42 PM EST –

I looked him up on the internet when I got home. He stayed perfectly still as I paddled past him, but I cut a wide swath! I was at a fairly wide point in the river and was taking a right and heading toward a dock. His head was out of the water but his body was submerged. I was a little nervous. My plan of action was to beat the hell out of him with the paddle. But he never approached.

I’m having a custom chest holster made
I’ll be able to wear it over my PFD.

You saw a water moccassin?
Do you mean a cotton mouth snake? Most misidentify water snakes, assuming snake in the water is a cotton mouth. It very probably could have been a banded water snake.

Cotton mouths can be aggressive. You are, after all, invading their territory. But, mostly, they don’t want anything to do with you.

I think
cottonmouths and water moccassins are the same thing. As I say, I gave him a lot of room. I’m just wondering how true the stories of aggression are. There seems to be two schools of thought on snake encounters. One is that they’ll leave you alone if you leave them alone. The other is that water snakes are aggressive and will attack. I’m just wondering if paddlers have had first hand experiences.

I doubt it was a Water Moccasin…

– Last Updated: Jan-23-08 2:11 PM EST –

Depending on where you live, it was likely non-venomous water snake. (how about a location)

I see them all the time when I am out. Lots of times I am looking for them as I am leading trips for a State Park. Now, I know the differences and generally do not handle the venomous ones, although on occasion I will have to.

The general rule is that you do not look like a threat to the snake. The snake would most likely just keep on moving unless you bother it. As to the venomous snakes, many adults will not inject you when they bite. they will "dry bite" as it takes energy to make venom.

So, long story short... Snakes are not a problem unless we go out of our way to move into their area. Keep in mind that when we are out paddling, we are in their territory, not ours and respect is mutual.

in many years of paddling, fishing, hunting and swimming in the streams, rivers, and lakes of eastern n.c. i have seen many cottonmouths and even more non-poisonous watersnakes than i could begin to remember. however, i have never, ever had one that acted in an aggressive manner even when i had stepped within inches of the snake. i have had the curious cottonmouth come swimming over to see what the commotion (me) was about but when he saw it was a clumsy human and not a struggling fish or amphibian he quickly left. i think that a cottonmouth’s curiousity coupled with a willingness to stand his ground when approached is the genesis of the unfounded reputation of aggressiveness in the species. in fact i’ve found the cottonmouth willing to go out of his way to let me know he was there to avoid having me step on his frail spine. when approached he will frequently open his mouth wide to expose the white lining in a visual display and may also beat his tail on the ground to add an audio alarm to warn us away. a cottonmouth certainly doesn’t want to waste venom on something he can’t hope to swallow. venom takes energy to make, and like all reptiles, a cottonmouth is all about conserving energy. go paddling wihout fear of the snakes, value their place in the ecosystem and please don’t think that you need to kill every snake you see on the river!


why would you hurt it?
Apologies in advance, but that seems like a fairly assinine thing to do.

Just leave them alone… and I doubt you know for sure as Browns, Northerns, and Redbellies are ALWAYS mistaken for Cottonmouths in these parts.

your canoe must be the wrong color

School Choice
School 1) Despite what anyone tells you, or what you think you may have experienced yourself, it is 100% impossible for a cottonmouth to initiate an attack on a human being.

School 2) Anything is possible.

Choose wisely

They’re on reservoirs, too
I’ve twice had snakes approach me on a reservoir. The first one swam the other way when I got curious and (cautiously) paddled closer to it.

The other one, though, tried to crawl up on the stern deck of my Tempest! Holymoly. I swung around and took off in a hurry. It looked like a rattlesnake. Some types are aggressive.

I have literally encountered
hundreds if not thousands of snakes and I have never felt like one was being the least bit aggressive.

In addition, I can say that I have never, not once, killed a snake in my life. I do not understand the mindset of folks that feel the need to kill them. (I have my theories but I shall keep them to my self)

school #3
No way you can outrun a water moccasin. Unless you have one 'a those fancy powered kayaks (and then you’ll sneak up on him anyway)

Your kayak resembles a log.

There are other moccasins, including
those worn on the feet. A well known herpetologist know cringes at the term “water moccasin”. Its difficult to tell the type of snake by seeing it in the field and then looking it up. Even seeing things like an open mouth and the white coloration of the cottonmouth doesn’t mean much. Other snakes mimic the cottonmouth.

Then snakes must be colorblind
I’ve never seen a bright yellow log.

Might have been the devil-duckie decal on top, but how would he have seen that from his level?

I had no intention of hurting
the snake. I just wanted him to leave me alone. He did.