Saturday, July 20, 2013

Won't back down!

So I learned something about snakes today.  Well, a particular specie of snake: the water moccasin aka cottonmouth.  I was driving on a gravel road into a refuge area today and I passed, and avoided, what I first thought was a cow patty.  This particular road is near a levee and cattle are pastured on both sides of the road.  In fact, this is what I drove through yesterday on this very road:

And when I got to my destination, I'd run through the cow patty gauntlet and my car smelled like a barn.  So I was avoiding said patties today...  But as I passed, my brain clicked that this particular patty was different.  Was that a snake?  I looked in the rear view, and it was still there (which actually surprised me; most snakes would have already been gone after a car passed with  a foot or two).  So I backed up and got to where I could see it out the windshield. Yep, it was still there (another surprise).  It was sitting very still in a defensive posture with its head up, but not moving.  So I scrambled for the camera, and opened the door carefully.  Often animals won't spook when the car passed by but when someone steps out, they head for the hills.  Not this guy. So I shot him from several angles, definitely using the zoom to its full advantage.  I was pretty sure it was a cottonmouth and I didn't want him to suddenly decide to move *toward* me.  He stayed perfectly still and let me shoot away.  He was very handsome...although those eyes...

Darn!  A truck was coming up behind me and I'm smack dab in the middle of the road with my door open.  I debated...should I let them know what I was doing?  Chances were good it was someone I knew...I was there for a birding event and it was possibly a fellow birder.  But I couldn't tell from this distance.  And most people seem to hold the opinion "the only good snake is a dead snake".  I thought about trying to shoo the snake with a rock or something, but the truck was coming quickly and I thought maybe it would try to go around me.  So I hopped in my car and moved forward slowly, hoping the snake would finally get perturbed and get off the road.  I looked in my rear view, hoping that when it saw this huge red truck bearing down, it would decide he'd had enough aggravation....and as I watched, the left front tire went right over the snake.  

As it turns out, it was actually someone I knew in the truck, and they were NOT the kind that would deliberately run over a snake.  I was recounting the story later to some fellow birders and a friend told me that it's in the nature of cottonmouths to stand their ground.  They evidently think they're big and bad and everyone else should get out of their way...and I'm sure most do...except us in our vehicles.  I was sad, and I feel guilty for allowing it to happen.  As we left later I looked for the squished snake to take another picture (y'all know my penchant for taking pics of dead things) but he was no longer in the road.  I will have to hope that one of the opportunistic vultures that was hanging around made a nice meal of him.  A small consolation.

Sorry, snake.  But at least you're immortalized here in permanent pixels, and I've learned a lesson.  Cottonmouths won't back down!

1 comment:

Chrystina said...

Oh no!! This is such a sad story, but such a great picture.