Cottonmouth / Water Moccasin Care & Natural History

findi

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Hi, Frank Indiviglio here. I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career spent at several zoos, aquariums, and museums, including over20 years with the Bronx Zoo. Big and bold, the Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin is one of the most frequently-encountered of the USA’s venomous snakes. Stories of its alleged ferocity abound, and many folks living within its range are convinced that it goes out of its way to attack people. I’ve had the chance to work with this impressive serpent at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos (Note: venomous snakes should never be kept in private collections), and to observe it in the wild, and have found its actual habits to be far more interesting than the supposed ones! From scavenging road-killed pigs to turning up in areas far north of where most people “expect” it, the Cottonmouth is full of surprises. Today I’ll focus on the natural history and captive care of the Eastern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorous picivorous), with some comments on the 2 related subspecies. Read the rest of this article here Venomous Snakes: Care of Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin
Please also check out my posts on Twitter http://bitly.com/JP27Nj and Facebook http://on.fb.me/KckP1m

My Bio, with photos of animals I’ve been lucky enough to work with: That Pet Place Welcomes Frank Indiviglio | That Reptile Blog

Best Regards, Frank
 
Hhhmmm... I am actually one of those crazy people who think that venomous pet ownership should be much more regulated than it is. I cringe to see people promoting these. Creatures as pets...
 
What's wrong with everyone owning venomous snakes? Oh wait wasn't there a cobra on the loose this past week in California.
 
I'm actually not a big fan of 'hot' species in captivity either. As much as I like snakes, I believe only the most qualified folks should be allowed to keep those.
 
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Hi All,

Thanks for the comments...there's no way to properly prepare to handle a bite in a private collection; far more to it than assuring antivenin is available at the local hospital (I managed the Bx Zoo and St I Zoo's protocols for many years)...but I take a great deal of heat over this from those in favor of keeping them, tends to gravitate towards " the government shouldn't tell us what to do" type arguments. I've never changed anyone's opinion - but the first bite invariably does! Best, Frank
 
I used to go to many reptile shows when I kept and bred a type of gecko called Chahoua. Excuse me if this sounds bad but when the shows had "hot" sections you should have seen the strange creepy people looking at and buying these poisonous snakes. Not the brightest crayons in the box and certainly not people you want to see owning these.:eek:
 
I tend to lean towards "keep the government out of it" but in matters of public safety, well... For me it isn't just about the snakes, but also wolves/wolf hybrids, big cats, bears, etc. When I was young a woman in my church was mauled by a black bear. Yep. In town. Over her fudge bar.

The sticky part comes when people try to label "exotic pets" as something we shouldnt have, not realizing that our hamsters, rabbits, geckos, and yes, parrots, are exotic pets. So while I don't want people to just keep them willy-nilly, the idea of "outlawing" them or regulating them makes me nervous.
 
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I tend to lean towards "keep the government out of it" but in matters of public safety, well... For me it isn't just about the snakes, but also wolves/wolf hybrids, big cats, bears, etc. When I was young a woman in my church was mauled by a black bear. Yep. In town. Over her fudge bar.

The sticky part comes when people try to label "exotic pets" as something we shouldnt have, not realizing that our hamsters, rabbits, geckos, and yes, parrots, are exotic pets. So while I don't want people to just keep them willy-nilly, the idea of "outlawing" them or regulating them makes me nervous.

Thanks...there are ways to make sensible regulations...a gerbil is not a cougar, etc - always some gray areas but that holds with everything. I've responded to an enormous number of dangerous animal incidents over the years...mammals, as you mention, very commonly kept here in NY (where most are illegal to own) and elsewhere. Native wildlife becomming habituated to people is also a problem...well-meaning intentions aside, people cannot co-exist in densly populated areas with large predators (one fool employed by an org I worked for spent tons of money on a marsh croc breeding -release program - and released them a few miles downstream from a village in India where they had regularly killed children for centuries!...did far more harm than good to both people and the species)..local leaders told him to pet the crocs in his backyard with his children... best, frank
 

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