Disquieted by Dropping Snakes

Brown Watersnake, Nerodia taxispilota; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. January 21, 2021. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

From naturalist Francis Harper’s journal during his first visit to the Okefenokee Swamp in May 1912:

“​When the bushes scraped our faces or tugged at our hats, it was a trifle disquieting to recall the many snakes that we had heard during the day as they dropped into the water from their resting places along the branches projecting over the run. Another barred owl challenged our intrusion into its “ancient, solitary reign” by sending forth its cry from a cypress above us, and it responded to our imitative calls for me still nearer perch. Thus, for three extraordinarily long, wearisome hours, during which our boat more than once wandered off the trail, we struggled through the swampy tangle, finally to emerge into a bonnet-covered lagoon under a starlit sky. In another minute we had gained the open waters of Billy’s Lake, and with lighter hearts we turned our course eastward.”



  1. I love seeing snakes when I’m outdoors. Very few (only 6 species in Georgia) are venomous and water snakes are especially interesting. The Cottonmouth has an undeserved reputation for aggression and many people think any snake seen in water is a Cottonmouth. The Brown Water Snake is easily identified by the staggered blotches and very high set eyes.


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