Nearly everyone I have ever met in Georgia, and in other places as well, has a story about being chased by a Cottonmouth. It’s like asking a kid if he or she has seen Santa Claus. You get half a dozen little kids in the same room and start talking about seeing Santa and you’ll start hearing stories about how one kid heard hooves on the roof from reindeer or peeked in as Santa was putting the bike together, or they looked out of the window and saw the sleigh in the sky.
Okay, some of these children actually believe they saw something, and because they believe in Santa, they think they really did see him. The others are lying. It’s harsh to say that, but all stories about Santa are untrue, we know that. The only question is deception or misconception. And we know when we begin to tell children about Santa, we’re lying. When the kids grow up, they’ll repeat the lie, because it’s been going on for so long no one can figure out how to stop it. Cottonmouths chasing people is remarkably similar.
After twenty years of living next to a pond that is overgrown with weeds, a haven for frogs and other amphibians, I see a Cottonmouth, or three, every week. I see a lot of Banded Water Snakes, which frequently are confused for Cottonmouths. In my entire life, it’s totally possible that I’ve encountered hundreds of Cottonmouths. I’ve caught dozens of them. I have never been chased, not once.
However, nearly every person you talk to who has been in the woods at all, will tell the story of being chased. Some mistake the snake’s attempt to flee as pursuit. But at the end of the day, there isn’t one video out there of a Cottonmouth chasing anyone. Not one. No nature show has ever recorded this. All the shows about hunters and fishermen and outdoors activity, nope, not a single video of a Cottonmouth chasing someone.
Before this gets cranked up into story swapping time, you might want to do some reading. Since the beginning of time, only four people have ever died from the bite of a Cottonmouth. Look it up. Try to find some evidence that these snakes are out there trying their hardest to bite people. If they’re chasing, they are miserable at it. Or it simply isn’t true.
Here’s a news article about a man who studies Cottonmouths. He’s going to say a lot more of what you’ve read here.
Here’s a FaceBook group. There are literally hundreds of videos on this site of Cottonmouths Not Chasing People
The Cottonmouth is America’s favorite villain. Even in states well out of the range map of the Cottonmouth, people still tell the story of someone who “fell into a nest of Cottonmouths and was killed”. Yet the evidence that this story happened, or honestly, any of the stories told about Cottonmouths ever really happened, are like the stories told about Santa Claus. We like to believe in some magic being, we want our kids to believe this, but we also seem to need something scary as well. Unable to find this scary creature, we invented one, and once again, it’s simply not true. Ever.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.