Come on in, the water is fine

This long, fat snake dropped into the water from a cattle panel.

I have never really been into any kind of water activity other than fishing or canoing. I don’t mind swimming in a pool. I don’t mind taking a shower or a bath. I am not into swimming in a lake. Most lakes are dirty and smell bad. I am not into wading up and down creeks. I am definitely not into getting into water in an ocean. There are things in there swimming around that will eat you.

A few years ago, I was in Nicaragua on a fishing adventure. The water was too rough to go out on the ocean fishing so a bunch of us stood on the beach surf casting. We would wade out as far as we could and then cast our lines. We were catching snook and crevalle jacks right and left and were having a great time. One of the guys fishing beside me turned to me rather innocently and asked me if I ever thought about what was swimming down there around my legs. Since we had landed sharks out on the ocean when tarpon fishing, I knew they were around. I was out of that water in the blink of an eye!

Now, I have to say that I don’t mind wading in mountain streams fly fishing. One of the best vacations I ever went on consisted of Paula and I slowly working our way up the western edge of Montana fly fishing for over a week. I think I don’t mind that water because it is moving fast and is crystal clear. I love the activity from the animal kingdom that takes place along our rivers, streams and creeks here in Kansas. I just am not big on getting my feet wet in these waterways. I ran into one of those creatures that live along our waterways a few days back.

For some reason, in the last couple of months I keep running into snakes. I have had multiple encounters with the snake I wrote about a few weeks ago. A month ago I was cutting trees and was sitting on the ground when I heard something rustle behind me. I turned around to have a look, and there a foot away from me was a Rough Green Snake. It was about three feet long and was a brilliant green color. Honestly, it was the most beautiful snake I have ever seen. It was just sitting there behind me looking at me. I moved a little and the snake slowly moved off.

I was checking a flood gap fence two weeks ago. There was a cattle panel that had a log wedged under it and was holding it up in the air. I was observing this from a bridge. I worked my way off the bridge and down toward the water. As I was hugging the bridge base and trying to avoid the water, I got within a couple of feet of the cattle panel when something fell out of the sky right beside my shoulder. It splashed into the water. I glanced down and there it was three feet from me staring at me. It was a rather large snake. My first thought was that it was a Water Moccasin. Then I wondered if it was a Cottonmouth.

Obviously, I was thinking it was a venomous snake! I backed up a few feet and pulled out my phone and snapped off a couple of photos. I grabbed a stick and attempted to lift it up, but he took off up the creek. I can’t believe all of the snakes I keep running into!

After doing some research, I discovered that we have no Water Moccasins in Kansas, and the Cottonmouth resides in the very southeast corner of the state. What the three foot long and very fat snake was is a Northern Water Snake. They are non-venomous. I discovered that the snake spends a great deal of time hanging from tree branches over the water basking in the sun. This particular snake substituted a cattle panel for a tree branch. They eat your standard creek fare such as frogs, crayfish and salamanders. They are a very common snake and are routinely misidentified as a Cottonmouth and thus killed because of this.

I would imagine that if most people spotted this creature in the water, they would be a little reluctant to get their feet wet! Come on in, the water is fine and the snake doesn’t bite!

Tim Kellenberger105 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.

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