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From Reelfoot Lake Treasures
by Lexie Leonard

 This is an excerpt from Lexie Leonard's book: 
Reelfoot Lake Treasures

 A lot of people who come to Reelfoot Lake think they're lucky if thy don't get snake bit. This is something you hardly ever hear of. Seems as the serpent in the Garden of Eden put a fear of snakes into all people.

The lake has about 30 different kinds of snakes of which 98% are non-poisonous. The water snakes of which there are 5 or 6 kinds are the most common of the snakes. They are not poisonous.

The water snake makes a good pet - if you want a snake for a pet. You can pick one up and he will bite you two or three times and then stop it. It's just a scratch and then you can give him to someone else and he won't bite any more. People often get the water snake confused with a water moccasin, which is the most poisonous snake of the lake. Some books identify the snake as a cottonmouth.

 I have never heard of a death from a snake bite on Reelfoot Lake. The rattlesnakes are located east of the lake in the hills and along with the copperhead, which you seldom hear of one around the lake.

A cottonmouth is never seen in the park areas and camping grounds. They live on the islands, as this is their territory. If you should walk through the woods and if you were to kill a cottonmouth, his mate would swim the lake looking for the other mate. They go through a ritual dance. You can punch them and they will strike but, they will not stop their ceremony. Sometimes this ritual they have will go on for hours. It is probably once in a life time that you will ever witness the ritual of a snake, however I have seen several snake rituals over a period of years.

The cottonmouth snake mates for a lifetime. It is against the law to kill a snake at Reelfoot. When fishing you should keep your fish in your ice chest as snakes have been known to follow a boat with a fish stringer in the water looking for food. They are like the turtle, a living garbage disposal. Snakes will stay fairly close to the territory they are use to. You can put a little transformer on a snake and pick them up on the radio fairly close to where they were tagged weeks before. Never attempt to catch one on a hook unless you know what you're doing. 


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