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How to Avoid Water Snakes

If you go canoeing or boating in an area where water snakes are prevalent, there are common-sense precautions for avoiding them.


  • Step 1: Learn to identify the difference between the bites of venomous and non-venomous snakes. A non-venomous bite will have the outline of the snake's mouth with many small punctures, while the bite from a venomous snake will leave one or two deep punctures.
  • Step 2: Bring a standard boating first-aid kit, and include liquid soap, antiseptic wipes, and bottled water. Also bring a venom removal pump if you go canoeing in an area that is known for venomous water snakes. Keep your eyes open, and paddle safely!
  • FACT: Venomous snakes have elliptical pupils, like a cat's, while nonvenomous snakes' pupils are round.
  • Step 3: Use a pair of long-handled reptile grips to get rid of a snake that does drop into your boat. Practice picking up pieces of garden hose from different parts of your boat to learn how to swiftly remove a snake without upsetting your boat's balance.
  • TIP: A snake may accidentally drop into your boat while trying to get away from you as you travel below it.
  • Step 4: Be on the lookout for water snakes during the daytime in hot, humid weather. While land snakes prefer going out at night, water snakes can usually be found during the day.
  • Step 5: Avoid areas that snakes use for sunning themselves. If you're boating or rafting, steer clear of overhanging tree branches where snakes may be sunning and could drop down onto you.
  • Step 6: Understand that snakes can swim. Snakes take advantage of the water's surface tension and glide on top of it. They can lift as much as one third of their body off the water's surface, but, since there isn't anything for them to thrust off of, a snake gliding on the water has a severely limited striking distance.

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