I continued my hike long the Tamiami Trail. In the next couple of miles I counted 30 moccasins in and on the side of the canal along the north side of the road. There weren’t any gators, but these snakes were big, about the size of a man’s arm, short and fat. Some were sunning themselves on rocks and sticks and some were swimming on top of the thick weeds.
There is a misconception that every dark-colored snake one sees in the water is a poisonous moccasin. Not the case. There are more harmless water snakes than moccasins. An adult Cottonmouth Moccasin on average is between 20-48 inches long. Its body is very fat, and it has a short thick tail. Its head is distinctly broad and triangular shaped and much broader than the neck. Its pupil is vertical. Water snakes have a slender body, a long thin tail, a narrow head, and no neck, although a water snake can flatten its head out to look threatening, which will give it a triangular look.
Keep in mind that Cottonmouth bites can be very dangerous. They use a hemotoxic venom like copperheads and most rattlesnakes, which prevents the body’s blood supply from coagulating and therefore a victim may experience a large blood loss. Bleeding may be from every opening of the body. There is extreme pain and possible permanent tissue and muscle damage or even loss of limb. The good news, if there is any, is that at least half of all venomous snake bites turn out to be “dry bites.” This is a bite that doesn’t have any venom in it. It is possible that they may save their venom for something they want to eat. Just remember that even non-poisonous snakes can bite, so it is best to leave snakes alone…..
It was about 9 miles along the Trail to Monroe Station. Monroe Station opened in 1928. It was originally one of six stations built by Baron Collier every 10 to 12 miles along the most desolate part of the trail. They were to provide safety, comfort, supplies, gas, repairs and even a telephone. Collier planned these stations with husband-and-wife teams in mind. The wife pumped gas and took care of the commercial area, and the husband every hour would ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle the 5 to 6 miles each way from the station looking for motorists who needed help.
About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or Amazon.com