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Topic: Cottonmouth mating balls...fact or fiction?

Thought I'd post this little topic and see what everyone knows and/or thinks about it.

If you'd never heard of this snake story, it's basically a description of "thousands" of writhing Cottonmouth that congregate in large mating balls in the water (usually described as taking place in late summer).

Most scientists have dismissed such accounts as simply watersnakes that have congregated in last-standing pools of a creek.  There they hunt for the last remaining fish.  And yes, this is a phenomenon I have witnessed.  In one pool, late one summer of a particularly dry year, I must have observed 10 watersnakes (or more) in a small mudpuddle hardly larger than 4 feet across!

But I'm still not entirely convinced that this completely reasons away all of the layperson accounts of these Cottonmouth "mating balls"....

What do you think?  Please post your thoughts.

Kory Roberts: Email | Facebook | Flickr | YouTube

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Re: Cottonmouth mating balls...fact or fiction?

I've heard of it...never seen it tho. Now then again why would I go looking for such a thing, cottonmouths are probably the only snake I want nothing to do with. Aggression can have that one, Im not gonna argue. Now in Oklahoma on FT.COBB Lake up in a squirmy little creek most appropriately called Cobb Creek--you can motor up a half mile or so and its like being transported to the bayou--still muddy waters...overhanging trees, drooping branches that touch the water... fallen trees, logs and mudslides--perfect habitat for reptilian creatures....now Ive seen several snakes high up in the trees loominously hanging over the boat as we were driving under- verrrrrry creepy feeling having  many of them staring at you. They were dark colored and long, most often wound around the branch once and dangling their heads down. Dont know what kind they were. I seem to remember a few being bashed with the boat paddle as it was swimming toward---methinks thats notorious behavior for a cottonmouth but I was little and the people I was fishing will werent all that receptive to snakes. No ball behavior though, just several in one tree branch, and several branches worth along the creek on any given day. I think Ive seen something of the nature on the discovery channel, maybe it was some amazonian species of snake that does the same thing?

my husband says he's seen them in masses--but didnt get close enough to view a "ball" shape to it.

Mystie

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Re: Cottonmouth mating balls...fact or fiction?

Based on my observations and those of other snake researchers, I don't believe dangling in tree limbs over the water is a behavior exhibited by Cottonmouth.  These, almost assuredly, are all nonvenomous watersnakes.

Interesting that your husband claims to have seen "them" in masses, but were these Cottonmouth or just watersnakes?  And why were they masses?  Was it for feeding on fish in a small pool, or did there appear to be another reason?

Kory Roberts: Email | Facebook | Flickr | YouTube

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Re: Cottonmouth mating balls...fact or fiction?

He didnt say, just that there were masses of them in the water, I'm assuming he meant in a small amount of water, but I dont know if they were feeding or breeding---he dispises snakes with a passion, deathly afraid of them so just getting him to talk about them is like pulling teeth. LOL.

Mystie