RARA-AVIS: copperheads and cottonmouths

From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 20 May 2002

MrT says: After reading Dead Man, I wondered if Joe Gores, who, besides being the modern Hammett, is a thorough researcher, has ever tried to hold a cottonmouth in his hand...

Bill Crider has it right when he has Sheriff Dan Rhodes worry about stepping on critters... it's the sensible thing to do. Yesterday I ran into a fat copperhead while walking on a trail. I beat it out of there fast. As a hardboiled type, I probably should have held it and put it in my pocket, just in case I needed it for self-defense.


the cottonmouth and copperhead are closely related, and are the only pit vipers in the states besides rattlesnakes. although closely related, a cottonmouth's temperament is far different from a copperhead's. a copperhead will almost never bite unless attacked. a cottonmouth, however, is has a mean, nasty temperament. a cottonmouth is never far from water, but a copperhead is happy in a plain ole pile of rocks.

there are a lot of copperheads and timber rattlers in the rocky hills and hollers of southern indiana, but i've never seen a cottonmouth. i believe they are a more southern snake.


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