Importance of Natural Resources

SNAKE BITE…is it Venomous?!


(dramatic instrumental music)
(water sloshing) (water splashing)
– Got it! Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah! Oh, it latched onto my finger! (wildcat screams) (dramatic percussion music) (bear roars) During the warm
months of summer, the wetland ecosystems of the
northeastern United States are a lush catacomb of plants
and well-camouflaged animals. From a bird’s eye view the
lily pads are so dense, it almost appears as if you
could walk right across them. Yet, just beneath the surface, a tangled maze of chaos
would entangle any creature not perfectly suited to
survive in this aquatic jungle. Today we are exploring a
protected stretch of property in central Ohio. This private reserve is
home to a variety of animals including a slithering
swamp serpent that is oftentimes wrongfully
cast in a villainous roll. My goal is to rewrite the script and teach you why this
reptile should be respected and not feared, but to do so first I must find and catch the elusive northern
water snake. (water sloshing) Check this out, whoa. That is a little tiny painted turtle. That guy was just up
on the embankment, also likely out absorbing
some of the sunlight. He didn’t even see us coming. Definitely didn’t expect a
predator to come from the water in towards the edge. Look how cute he is. Alright, I’m gonna
place him back. Believe it or not, a
turtle of this size is the perfect meal for one
of the northern water snakes that we’re looking for. You stay safe out
there, little buddy. Okay. The search continues. We continued on course,
battling the thick grass and dense vegetation as
the sun beat down overhead. The conditions were perfect, but the snakes were
nowhere to be seen. In this environment, it’s just so tough
to move through. All of these lily pads just grab at your legs
(water sloshing) as you’re moving through. And the problem is that I’m
disturbing the environment a lot now, these snakes can feel
vibrations in the water, so as I approach, there could
be one curled up on a lily pad who’ll completely
dive under the surface before I even got close. Let’s check up here near
these taller grasses. Maybe we’ll have a chance. For a reptile, even a
finely tuned predator like the water snake,
staying perfectly camouflaged in the environment means
survival on many levels. Not only does it keep
them poised for an attack on any unsuspecting prey item, it also keeps them hidden from
the sights of larger animals that would in turn
love nothing more than to have a
delicious snake lunch. In today’s scenario, I am
playing the role of a predator. And while I don’t eat
snakes, my would be prey has finally been spotted. Mario, snake, snake snake snake! Alright, I’m making
a move on it. (water splashing) Got it! – [Mario] You got it? – I’m losing I’m losing it! (sighs) Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah! Oh, it latched onto my finger! Ah! Oh boy! Ah, that’s a big bite, woo! Ah ah! Latched onto my arm (gasping). Okay, well, that’s what happens
when you grab on to the northern water snake. You stand a chance (gasps) ouch! Of taking a pretty good bite. That is a good sized
snake right there. Wow, oh boy. Yeah, I am definitely bleeding. But that is okay, we
have got our snake. Wow, alright, guys,
let’s get into a slightly more
controlled setting and get this one up
close for the cameras. (gasps) Youch, took
a bite on the finger and a full bite
all across my arm. Yes, we got one.
(water sloshing) (sighs) Well, that was
one arduous search, but we finally managed to
catch a northern water snake. And in the process I
took a pretty nasty bite. And he also got ahold of the
entire side of my forearm. Now, because the
snake was in flight, I just had to dive
and grab for it, and I was grabbing it
by the back of the body, then it unfortunately found
me in the perfect position for this snake to strick
and inflict a bite. But fear not, guys, this
is a nonvenomous species. Which is oftentimes mistaken for the venomous water moccasin. Now, we have compared
the banded water snake to the water moccasin before, but the reason I wanted to
catch a northern water snake is look how dark in
coloration this snake is. Almost no banding. Now, when they’re younger
that banding is very distinct, and as they get
older it disappears and then they are just
dark brown in coloration. Alright, this is one of
the most common aquatic snake species that
you will find here in the northeastern United
States and, pretty good sized. It can get a bit
bigger than this, closer to four feet
at full length. I would guess that
this is likely a male. The females do grow
larger than the males. But nonetheless, an
absolutely gorgeous reptile. You can see now that it
figures out that I’m not trying to eat it, I’m not clawing
at it, I’m not biting it, it is completely calmed
down, it is not striking. It is (sniffs), it’s musking a little bit, which means that it
is pooping on me. That is a third
defense mechanism. Obviously, the first
one is to flee, the second one is to
fight, so entails the bite, and then of course, pooping
on your potential attacker is a worst case scenario. But at this point the snake
has pretty much figured out, okay, well, nobody’s
trying to eat me so I’m gonna stay
completely calm. Let me see if I
can get it to just, stretch out in my hands
there, look at that. What a cool looking snake. Now, like I said earlier,
this time of the day snakes are using
the sun to heat up so that they can
head out and hunt. These lily pads
are full of frogs, small fish, tadpoles. And that is exactly what
these snakes are going after. I was able to sneak
in and catch it which allows us to get it
up close for the camera, but they are
voracious predators. Constantly searching for
these other aquatic lifeforms to feast on. Now, you think of predators
for a snake like this, something that may come to
mind is the great blue heron. Great blue herons oftentimes
will catch snakes, even of this size, and gobble
them down rather quickly. But hopefully this
guy can stay hidden out here in the lily pads. They’ve done a good
job all morning alluding us from capture. Now, we saw a couple
of smaller ones earlier that just were too
quick for me to catch, but that was simply a matter
of being in the right place at the right time
to get this reptile in front of the cameras. And you can see if
I put my finger out just in front of his nose there, he’s gonna stick out his tongue. And that’s him sensing me. And with that tongue it
is able to taste chemicals in the environment, and right
now that snake is thinking, okay, well, you’ve
got this camera here, we’ve got a camera
there, we’ve got Coyote holding on to me, not
something I can eat. So, as long as I stay calm,
I can build up my energy and then at any
moment when he feels that there is an
opportunity to escape, it will burst into action and try to flee
back into the water. But right now, I’ve got it
just perfectly positioned right there in my
hand, look at that. Now, one of the defense
mechanisms of the snake, especially when they’re angry
and they’re in aggressive mode is they will puff up their
bodies and their heads, which makes them look like
the venomous water moccasin. And that’s how oftentimes
people will mistake this snake for that venomous
species, and unfortunately then think, oh, it’s
dangerous, I should kill it. But the northern water snake is a completely
harmless species. What a cool looking snake. Let me actually set it down
into the water for a second so you can see just what they look
like in the water. You see how it blends completely
into the water like that? And what they will do
is just slink through the grasses and the
cattails, look at that, see how it just slowly moves? And actually, like
that in the water, you can see that the banding
is a little more prominent. And that banding,
despite the fact that it is rather tough to see, does keep them camouflaged in
between all the plant matter, the light, and the shadows. Look at that, look how
they can just easily move through the grasses,
let me bring the snake back up here, oh oh oh! He’s getting a
little defensive now. I don’t wanna take another bite. Here we go, buddy. Now, if you guys go out there
into a wetland environment and you see one of these snakes, I definitely do not
recommend trying to catch it. Because while they
may not be venomous, their bite is pretty painful. They have an ant-coagulant
in their saliva which will cause you to
bleed more than normal. As you can see, that
blood is still coming out of my finger and
out of my forearm. But, if you do try to catch
one and you are bitten, fear not, a little soap and
water, a little first aid will clean that bite up
and you’ll be just fine. Well, despite the fact that
the northern water snake is an incredibly common species, it sure did pose a
challenge to find, catch, and get up
close for the cameras. I’m Coyote Peterson, be brave! Stay wild! We’ll see ya on
the next adventure. Oh, I think it’s time
to clean up that bite. (water sloshing) No matter what the species, humans generally
seem to fear snakes, casting them as
villains the second one slithers across their path. Yet, truth be told,
these reptiles really
want nothing more than to stay hidden
from our sight. The northern water
snake does have an aggressive temperament
when tangled with. And they will readily
bite to defend themselves, especially when put
into the position where they become prey. So, if one of these snakes
does happen across your path, simply stand still,
admire the moment, and recognize that to this
reptile, you are the predator, and there’s absolutely
nothing to fear. If you want to overcome
your fear of snakes, learn about the
differences between venomous and nonvenomous species by watching the water snake
vs. water moccasin episode. And don’t forget, subscribe! So you can join me and the crew on this season of
Breaking Trail. This is going to be
slightly more dangerous. (thunder rumbling)
(bear roars) (bird calling)


Reader Comments

  1. When he got biten he sounded like it hurt but he also sounded so so excited.
    Edit : Like how does he do that ?

  2. Snake: wanna play hide and seek

    Coyote: yep but if I find you don’t bite me

    Snake:ok

    Coyote: ready or not here I come

    Snake: o no he’s getting close

    Coyote: found ya!

    snake “bites”

    Coyote: ouch that hurt

    Snake: haha I cheated

  3. I saw one the other day and it had a bit of red in the tail. i was in new jersey if that makes a difference

  4. My friend and I were going cliff jumping and then he got bit by a rattle snake without alarm and he was in the hospital for about 12 days almost lost his foot. Some snakes are aggressive but I understand the message

  5. I am not new but I just subscribed and liked cuz I feel bad you deserve this…. All because you always I don't know how to spell this but saccharifying to animals bite you because of us…

  6. If they're in the water a cottonmouth will swim with its entire body on the surface, and a water snake will have just its head sticking out (usually)

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