It’s very important to know the differences between the cottonmouth water moccasin and the humble water snake. Both take to the waters and keep similar diets, but one is venomous and territorial, and the other is not. The cottonmouth can easily be identified by its whitish mouth and acute angles to the head, and the water snake has a much broader and blunter head (in first photo, the water snake is at the top, in the second, the water snake is to the left). Both are beneficial to the health of our waterways, but know which one is aggressive and capable of harming you, and which is very shy and would much rather be left alone. Both have very beneficial energies to work with if approached with caution and respect with regards to their relics and remains (do NOT literally approach a cottonmouth, though. EVER!).

Years ago, during my work at a nature center, one of my educational partners was a large female water snake. She was unusually tame and chill for a female water snake (which are bigger than the males and tend to be feistier–not to be confused with venomous or aggressive). Water snakes in general tend to be really shy and don’t handle too well in captivity, but she was very special. She would ride around on my shoulder or wrapped around my neck, and had her own cubby when I was doing office-related work in the center lobby, where she’d peek her head out and help me greet visitors. She taught me a lot of secrets in the time we worked together, and I think back fondly of her when visiting the rivers and streams, always remembering to thank her kin for helping to keep our waterways vibrant and healthy.

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