Mobile County

Summer temperatures bring out venomous snakes

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) - With a hot weekend ahead you may need to keep an extra eye out for snakes slithering around.

Banded water snakes and cottonmouths are two common snakes in our area that at a glance could pass for the same, but only one of them could kill you.

JJ McCool said, "Of course, these being cold-blooded creatures, they can move around a lot better when it's warmer weather." 

Cottonmouth snakes are out now in the heat of summer. Just one bite from one could have lasting impacts. Mike Niemeyer tells us he was bitten when he was 16. Niemeyer said, "It took a good year and a half before I could fully regain movement of my middle finger and my whole right hand." 

Even though it's been years, Niemeyer says he can still feel a difference. He said, "To this day, I'm 34 years old, and my middle finger is still misshapen and it has arthritis and it gives me trouble to this day especially when the weather is cold."

While cottonmouths are dangerous, owner of Wildlife Solutions JJ McCool tells us they're often confused with a non-venomous snake. McCool said, "He wants to act like the cotton mouth. He wants to act like the bad guy, so he will actually flare his head out and spread his cheekbones out to look more like the cotton mouth."

JJ tells us there are a few easy ways to tell the two apart - the first being the head. McCool said, "Rounded nose and a very flat top of his head. He doesn't contain the venom glands." 

While the banded water snake has a smaller head, the cottonmouth has a much larger one. Another easy difference you can spot - how the snakes react to people. McCool said, "Whereas a water snake will a lot of times wander off, a cottonmouth a lot of times will hold his position where he's at and he'll kind of bow up. "

You probably don't want to get close enough for a snake to get into a defensive stance. McCool said, "Most people that are bitten by snakes, it's not from them walking out and stepping on it. Most people are from messing with snakes, trying to fool with a snake or trying to kill it." 

McCool says the best thing to do if you see a snake is to leave it alone.

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