Meandering beneath the canopy of the majestic longleaf pines, we spied a glimmer of sunlight reflecting on the surface of water. A small pond awaited, surrounded on all sides by the pine forest, sporting a few dozen waterlilies, and surrounded by the remnants of last years reeds. We moved closer, careful of getting our feet wet, hoping for a glimpse of some spring wildflowers or perhaps a deer slipping down for a late afternoon sip. Moving a bit too quickly, with our eyes on the pond margins, we almost literally stumbled across this curled up critter chilling in the reeds!
Agkistrodon piscivorous, the cottonmouth, one of North Carolina's five venomous snakes from the family Viperidae.
Shaken by the suddenness of the encounter, for the merest moment, we thought we were in the presence of one of its cousins, but the absence of a rattle quickly put that notion to rest. Large girth, roughly triangular head, vertical pupil and its distinctive markings, including a dark band through the eye, all helped with the positive identification of this impressive animal as a venomous water moccasin, and not one of its non-venomous water snake lookalikes.
We observed quietly from a safe distance until this laid back lounger became bored with us and decided to move on in the direction of the pond.
With darkness on its way, we took this as our cue to be moving on as well; just in case the warm afternoon sun had lured forth any other baskers that might still be moving about in the twilight. After all, there is such as thing as too much of a good thing, even with Hoot Owl Karma...