In my experience, you can generally divide snakes into two camps from a photographic perspective: the sort-of-cooperative snakes and the not-cooperative-in-the-gotdamn-slightest snakes. For example, Southern black racers are generally less than uncooperative while Yellow rat snakes often are fairly cooperative. It’s not a hard-line rule on either end, however. There are always exceptions to the standard. I’ve encountered a few fairly placid Southern black racers in my time, and sometimes I come across a Yellow rat snake with hellfire and madness in its veins. Still, some species are generally more cooperative than others when you’re trying to snag photographs.
Interestingly, and despite their reputation, Florida cottonmouths more often than not also fall into the soft-of-cooperative side of the equation. Personally, I find Florida cottonmouths to be generally patient and cooperative when I’m trying to photograph them. Despite popular opinion, they’re not really aggressive at all. That being said, this little cottonmouth was the stark exception to the standard. Though still not aggressive, this little viper was not cooperative in the gotdam slightest. Heh.
I came across the snake crossing a south Florida road fairly late at night and after a nice round of thunderstorms. Once it spotted me (headlamp and camera and all) coming, this little Cottonmouth decided to get the hell out of dodge. Nothing I did eased its desire to get the hell out of the road. It never stopped moving — even when I was in front of it. No matter what I did, how I moved, or where I positioned myself, this little fellow just wouldn’t simmer down. No defensive posturing from this one. Just MUST-GO! MUST-GO!
Rather than meddling with the determined Cottonmouth extensively, I was content to snag a few quick shots as we danced/slithered back and forth across the pavement. With other cars soon to come, I soon let the snake go about its way and, yes, get the hell out of dodge. This was definitely one of the rowdier Florida cottonmouths I’ve encountered, and good for it. When it comes to people, Florida cottonmouths should get the hell out of dodge. Unlike Cottonmouths and snakes more generally, people are more than eager to go out of their way to aggress upon wild animals and slaughter them needlessly.
Happy trails, uncooperative-Cottonmouth. My the road rise up to meet your scales for many more days to come!