|Our neighbor in 2002-2017 - RIP REK|
It was larger than the other watersnakes and more confident, continuing to swim by as I would snorkel the pool. Cruising the bedrock bank to investigate the fist-sized underwater openings that I never had the nerve to reach into, it would crawl halfway in, I could come up behind it and gently pet it as it froze but didn't panic, a apparent agreement we had to not harm each other.
Just a few months ago I was startled to find it on our deck, a good 12 feet above the creek. The vibration of my footsteps caused it to move over to the edge and slide down a pole to the ground, but not until I got a picture.
|Visiting the deck - REK|
|Cottonmouth - Wikipedia|
|Skin drying on cardboard - REK|
|Keeled scales -click to enlarge|
I don't blame anyone for killing a snake that they think is a danger to themselves or others. On the other hand, I would hope to teach avoidance of venomous snakes that fill an important niche in nature. More importantly, being able to identify venomous* snake species can help people to protect and maybe even appreciate the many beneficial harmless species.
Can I be certain this is the same snake? I hope some day to be proven wrong by seeing "our snake" cruising the swimming hole again.
* To avoid an embarrassing correction from a naturalist, remember that these are venomous snakes - the venom in their bite is dangerous. Snakes aren't "poisonous" which means it can kill you if you eat it.
Photographs of the venomous snakes of Missouri are on this web page starting on page 14.