Finding Cottonmouth

How to find a cottonmouth snake as well as other snakes

Some of the fondest memories I can recall are memories where I was out hunting for snakes like cottonmouths, copperheads and rattlesnakes. I do enjoy observing the nonvenomous stuff, but my favorites have always been the venomous snakes. When I was a kid I remember thinking, if I can find one single snake then today will be a huge success. The goal with this article to help you better your chances of finding that one single snake and maybe even several snakes like cottonmouth snakes, copperheads and rattlesnakes.

Where do I look?

If you’re new to snake hunting which is also known as “field herping” by many reptile enthusiasts, you may be wondering where to look in order to observe some really cool reptiles in their native habitat. The best success I’ve ever had field herping has always been on private property with that I’ll suggest you find some private property to begin with. Good place to start is maybe asking a family member that owns property or a close friend that owns some land. Unlike traditional hunting, most property owners don’t mind someone on their land looking for snakes especially, if you’re looking for venomous snakes as cottonmouth water moccasins tend to scare people half to death anyhow. Just be sure and get permission before you venture onto any private property preferably writing permission from the actual owner one be the best case scenario.

Locating the best habitat is usually the most difficult part about field herping. To start off you have to take a step back and think about places that have the least amount of human contact. Unlike nonvenomous snakes cottonmouths, copperheads and rattlesnakes tend to inhabit areas that don’t get a lot of contact with people so if you live in the city you’ll have to start thinking about places outside the city more so out in the rural areas to really better your chances of success.

Prepping for the snake hunt

Once you have your ideal location in mind it’s time to start dialing it in even further with some pre hunting prep work. The prep work will consist of finding a few ideal locations to prep with artificial cover or AC for short. Artificial cover is anything you can find to lay out in your ideal location that reptiles can use as cover for example pieces of wood and tin work extremely well for artificial cover.

Here are a couple of tips for using artificial cover:

• Place your AC in an area where it’s not going to be disturbed by anyone. This is critical because if the AC gets disturbed the chances of seeing any snakes or other reptile is pretty much gone.
• Great place to put AC are in places where fields transition into a heavily wooded area, right on the border of grasslands and woodlands are some of the best place to lay AC.
• Lay the AC in multiple layers with pieces overlapping other pieces as this will afford some great hiding spots for a variety of rodents and reptiles including snakes.
• If you’re targeting cottonmouth snakes specifically place your AC in the general area of some standing water source. I’ve heard of hepers having great success finding cottonmouth snakes laying AC right on the edge of some old well established water sources. Just be sure not to lay the pieces so close that they could possibly get submerged if a heavy rainfall hits.
• Artificial cover works best when it’s left completely untouched. The longer it’s left alone the higher your chances of success are at finding some really cool reptiles underneath. Most experienced field herpers have several locations spread out in several different areas and they typically only check each area once a year as this allows the AC to really settle in to the surrounding habitat.

Here’s a video of some snakes under artificial cover.

Final thoughts

There are a couple things you need to be mindful of before you ever step foot out of the door, like checking your local laws. Some states have strict laws on the books regarding collecting wild reptiles, so check with the local authorities before you do any field collecting. Also, be sure to not to bring any snake hunting tools ie hooks or tongs onto any state or federal parks because they are strict when it comes to enforcement, even if you’re not collecting just disturbing the animals by photographing them could land you in with a steep fine or possibly even in jail. Besides that always be mindful of safety, wear think knee high boots and never flip any rocks or AC by hand also use some other means like a snake hook, rack etc.

Hopefully, you’ve found these few tips to be of some use. Good luck and happy hunting.