How often do you check your shoes for snakes before you put them on? The answer is probably not often enough.
Jeffrey Tucker, from Baton Rouge in Louisiana, can attest to this first hand, after almost stepping on a venomous cottonmouth curled up in his crocs on May 11.
“My shoes were on the back patio,” Tucker told Newsweek. “I went to put in my foot and he stuck his head out for a second.”
The cottonmouth was only a baby, stretching to only about a foot long. However, juvenile snakes can still be dangerous.
“I was startled by seeing what was in there,” Tucker said. “We usually have frogs from time to time but never a snake.”
Cottonmouth snakes—also called water moccasins—are a venomous species found throughout the southeastern U.S. “In Louisiana, Cottonmouths range across the entire state from top to the bottom tip,” Kevin Hood, from Louisiana Snake ID, told Newsweek.
Tucker said that is was very common to see cottonmouths around his area.
Adult cottonmouths tend to grow to between 1.5 and 4.5 feet long, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, with vague black or dark brown crossbands along their tan brown bodies. The juveniles display bolder patterns of dark brown crossbands along a pink or orange background, with a bright yellow tail.
The snake’s name derives from the white coloration on the inside of their mouths, which they display when they feel threatened.
Although cottonmouth bites are extremely rare, their venom contains a potent blood toxin that can be deadly to humans. Envenomation can result in tissue damage, internal bleeding and hemorrhaging throughout the circulatory system. As a result, all bites should be treated as a medical emergency.
According to Hood, finding a snake in your shoe is not all that unusual: “Cottonmouths are opportunistic eaters who love frogs, lizards and toads and frogs/toads often find the inside of shoes as a safe, dark place to hide,” he said.
To avoid stepping on the scaly squatter, Tucker quickly removed it from his shoe. “I grabbed him with a stick and tossed him into the creek behind my home,” he said. “He was okay […] I put the shoes on after he was gone.”
Lucky for Tucker, the small snake was fairly easy to remove. However, if you find a snake on your property, the safest way to remove it is to call in a professional.
This article by Pandora Dewan was first published by Newsweek on 24 May 2023.
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