Slithering Facts About Snakes
Inside the Outdoors, July 10,

I was recently talking to a chap about the subjects of snakes, no less, when the person happened to bring up an interesting bit of information that raised my eyebrows, so to speak. I was informed that the poisonous or venomous snakes when swimming, will actually inflate themselves so they will actually float on top of the surface. The non-venomous species will swim with only their heads raised out of the water and the body under the liquid. I told her I did not know that and went about my investigation as usual to see if that was so.

And right she was. According to one website I found under, all the information I needed was spelled out. “If you only see the snakes’ head above the water, then it is most likely a non-venomous snake. Most the time, all venomous snakes will inflate their lungs so that their bodies float while they swim,” the writer stated.

Since we are on the subject, I thought I would spell out some other interesting facts about snakes.

Here again, from the website, it disclosed, “Of all snake species on the planet, only one-third of them are poisonous.” He then brought to the table four poisonous snakes found in the U.S. They are cottonheads, copperheads, rattlesnakes and the coral snakes. The Water Moccasin, also known as the Cottonmouth, has elliptical eyes with slits also known as cat eyes. The color may vary from black to green. One should be aware that they could be different colors.

One distinctive mark on a cottonhead is a white stripe that runs down the side on its head. The young have bright yellow tails. The adults do not have these colors. However, the writer warns, just because these snakes don’t have these markings doesn’t mean that the critter isn’t a cottonmouth, treat it with respect just in case.

These snakes are usually found around water or in it. If they are observed on land, they may be near some form of water basin, such as a river. But in all due respect, they are mostly around some form of waterway. Look for them to be alone instead of being part of the family.

I remember when I was fishing near the wall just around the corner east from Kingston Dam. I decided that I had had enough and wanted to get up on Rt. 30 and walk back to the dam and spend some time there before heading home. Crossing the creek was not hard. It may have taken some doing, but with a little patience, I did do it and then methodically worked out a plan so as to make it to the top. I would do it in two steps. Seeing a crack in the wall three-quarters of the way up, I pushed I pushed off from the bottom and crawled up to that point of destination. All was going well until I pulled myself up to look into the crevice.

Lo and behold, I had come face to face with a snake. Talk about a scary moment,
I had hoped I was looking at a black snake and nothing more. Not being in tune with snake identification at that time, I could be sure, but hoped all would work out, and it did, and when on top, I went on my way. But just imagine what went through my mind. I suppose you may have had similar emotions as I did. Staying calm was the ticket.

Next, we have the rattlesnake. I’ve been told they hang out a lot in the vicinity of Sleepy Hollow near the crossroad and up and on Rt. 30. Carcasses have been found on the roadway.

So, what is the one characteristic of this species? Its rattle on the end of its tail. According to the website writer, “They have a big, heavy triangle shaped head with elliptical eyes. If one doesn’t see their tails, their eyes will give them away as poisonous.”

Then we have the copperheads. Probably the snake I’m most familiar only because I used to see them often near a residence in Laughlintown near a pond, I stayed clear from them all the time observing them as long as possible. Their bodies are brighter than cottonmouths that range from a coppery brown to a bright beautiful orange, or a silver-pink or peach color.

Coral snakes are said to be very dangerous. Color wise, they have black, yellow and red bands, and a yellow head. They are very shy and will run from one than attack. But don’t challenge it. It may be one’s undoing.

Keep in mind, non-venomous snakes usually have a spoon-shaped rounded head. Venomous snakes will usually have a triangular shaped head.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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