– I’m Coyote Peterson. Right now we’re hiking in
the southern swamps of Texas, which is home to two
different water snake species. One is venomous, and one is not. If your life depended on it, would you be able to
tell the difference? (dramatic music) Stick around, ’cause
we’re about to show ya. (dramatic jungle music) (animal growling) As the sun cut through the
tops of the cypress trees, I carefully made my
way into the swamp. Every step counts when
you’re in the back country of south Texas. And as my boots slowly splashed
through the dark water, my focus was completely in
tune with the environment. I knew that it was only
a matter of time before I would find the one
reptile that most people are terrified of. Ah. – [Cameraman] Hey, what
are you looking for? – Snakes, and nothing yet. You know, most people are
out there and they’re hiking and they stumble upon snakes
when they don’t expect to. Me, I’m always lookin’ for ’em. But if you do come
across one in the wild, I think it’s really important
to identify the species. A lot of times you have
a non-venomous snake that will look like
a venomous one. Unfortunately, these
non-venomous snakes are then vilified
as being venomous and a lot of times they
end up being killed. My goal today is to catch
one non-venomous snake and one venomous snake
so we can show you the distinct differences
between the two. Ah, it’s a long search
out here in the swamps. I’m not givin’ up. We are gonna find some snakes. (water splashing) (suspenseful music) (dramatic music) (yelling) Yes! Yes! Check it out. Okay, little bitey,
little bitey. Ah, ah, ah, ah,
he’s got my finger. Ouch! Ah, good news for me, though, is that this one
is non-venomous. Bring it up in the
light, check that out. That is a broad-banded
water snake. Woo, okay. That is half of the
equation right there. Watch your GoPro. He’s trying to bite ya. Well, that’s the safe one. Now we gotta find the moccasin. Whew, awesome! Man, definitely got my thumb. A bite from this one and
I’m gonna be just fine. But the other snake
we’re lookin’ for? The water mocassin? If that attacked my thumb, we wouldn’t be gettin’ shots. We’d be on our way
to the hospital. Look at that. Let me get ’em real close
for your camera there. Woah! – [Cameraman] He’s bitey. Beautiful snake. – Okay, cool. Well, let’s keep
searching for moccasins. (dramatic music) You do not wanna do
is just accidentally step on a venomous snake. This is definitely
moccasin territory. There’s a moccasin right there. Okay, come up slow. – [Cameraman] Where? – Right up against
the side of that tree. – [Cameraman] Oh, I see. – Wow, look at how big it is. Okay, now this it the real deal. Stay back. (exhaling) Okay. Stay a couple steps back out. Now, they usually
move pretty slow. I’m gonna try to hook
it and bring it up here on the path. You ready? – [Cameraman] Yup. Careful. (dramatic music) – Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. Startle. (dramatic music) – [Cameraman] Careful. – Got it by the tail,
got it by the tail. Okay, there we go. Do not wanna take a
bite from this snake. That one will send
ya to the hospital. Okay, bringing it
up on the path here. Wow, okay. Ooh, rattle in the
tail a little bit. That is a defensive sign. Okay. Ah, ah, ah, tss, tss, tss, tss. It should just stop for us. Come here, come here. There we go. All right, what we need
to do now is just get the snake under control
so that we can get it up close for the cameras. Let me move it back
a little bit here. Ha, my nerves are goin’. Just looking into
the water there and that’s how well
these things camouflage. I just saw it out of
the corner of my eye, just an obscure shape
up against that cypress. And that’s what
these snakes will do. You don’t often see
them slithering about like you would a water snake. They’ll often be just like this, curled up in a ball somewhere
trying to stay camouflaged, trying to stay away from
any potential predators. Then again, if you were
gonna try to eat this snake, you better be quick
because if you’re tagged by those fangs, you are going
to be in a world of trouble. Now this is a water moccasin, but they are famously
known as cottonmouths. And watch this. I’ll get the snake
to open its mouth and you’ll see
that white throat. Look at that. That is a defensive, woah, see? And look, he got the
tail goin’ now, too. You see that? Mimicking a rattlesnake,
saying I am venomous. Yes, we know that
you are venomous. I can actually see
the fangs tucked back. Woo, I am drippin’ bullets
of sweat right now. Let me back up a touch. Okay, well perfect. We have the two snake
species that are indigenous to this habitat. A water moccasin and a
broad-banded water snake. One venomous, one that is not. Stick around and we’ll
show you which is which. Wow. Check this out. Completely calm now
considering the fact just a few minutes ago
this snake was doing everything it could to
bite me and get away. This is the broad-banded
water snake. And look at this
incredibly calm demeanor. Now I noticed the same thing
with Lake Erie water snakes and northern water snakes. At first it’s all
about fight or flight. If they can’t get away
and you catch ’em, they immediately
try to bite you. Now the good news for
me, like I said before, is that this is a
non-venomous species. – [Cameraman] So how
big do the snakes get? I mean, do these
snakes get as big as a northern water snake? – Yeah, they do. I would say this is
about average size for one of these snakes. It is I’d say about two
and a half feet in length. But they can grow out to
be about three and a half or four feet at a maximum size. Females are larger
than the males, and I do believe it’s a
male, looking at its cloaca. Yeah, you’re a handsome
fella, aren’t ya? Now, these snakes are
often misidentified. People see them near the water and they automatically
think it’s a water moccasin. This is a very common
species all across the southeastern United States. And the reason people mistake
it for a water moccasin is mostly the fact that A,
it’s right by the water, and B, the coloration. I’m gonna turn the
snake just a little bit. You see all that dark
brown that runs the length of the body? And then that faded
banding looks just like a younger water moccasin. But then of course if
you flip the snake over and look at its belly, look at all that
copper checkering. You will not find that
on a water moccasin. And not that you’d
ever necessarily see the belly of the snake, but I just think that that’s
really, really cool lookin’. Ho, ho, this is
actually the first time I have caught this
species of snake. And it is just so
incredibly calm right now. I cannot believe how
comfortable this snake has gotten with us, and we’ve only been handling
it for a few minutes. Oh, but it did musk on me. There you go. See that white stuff
on my hand right there? – [Cameraman] Ew. – Oh, yeah, it stinks. That is another
defense mechanism. Poop on a potential predator
if it’s trying to eat me. All right, but I’m
not gonna eat you. Don’t worry. We could just hang
out and be friends. Wow, this snake is so cool. Well, I think at this
juncture we should bring out the water moccasin. I’m gonna hand the
snake off to Mario. He’s gonna bring
in the moccasin. This is gonna be a
little more dangerous. Hopefully we’ll get that
snake to just calm down on the ground and we’ll get
the cameras up close for it so we can show you the
distinct field markings of that snake. All right, you ready? – [Mario] Yup. – All right, now we’re gonna
bring in the water moccasin. Ah, just keep your
wits about you ’cause this is going to be
slightly more dangerous. Okay, let me bring it over here. Come here, come here, come here. – [Cameraman] Slightly
is an understatement. – [Coyote] Yeah. I got it, I got it, I got it. Sling it in under. Hold on, let me get her to stop. Shht, shht. There we go. – [Cameraman] So, Coyote,
the water snake you just held had anticoagulant in its saliva. This snake has venom. What would this snake do to you? – This snake would, depending
on how your body reacted, it could potentially kill you. There are not many
reported deaths from water moccasin bites. However, that venom
is incredibly toxic and it will break down
your red blood cells. You could lose a finger, you could lose your hand. Let’s just put it this way. If I’m tagged by this snake, we are leaving the
scene and we are heading to the hospital. So I need to be extra
careful right now. Mark, we’ve got you a
couple feet past the snake. We’ve got Mario
just off camera here making sure if the
snake makes a move, he can keep it away
from you, Mark. But other than that, if we just stay
calm and collected just like this in
front of the snake, we should be just fine. You see, the snake’s
not trying to flee. It’s just keeping itself
low to the ground, its body spread. Look how wide and
girthy that snake is. Now these snakes,
like the banded water
snakes, are aquatic. However, they do not dive
down under water to hunt. You will see them
occasionally moving from pocket of water to
pocket of water, but they usually are
hunting on the embankment. These snakes do not have
rattles like rattlesnakes and they rely on their
camouflage to keep them hidden. A lot of times people will
be walking down a trail, you accidentally
step on the snake, and that’s how you are bitten. This snake has no
interest in chasing or hurting humans. If you just admire this
animal from a safe distance, you’re gonna be just fine. Okay, so the most important
part of this episode is that we want to
show you a comparison of this snake next to the
broad-banded water snake. Now to do that I’m
going to have to get the water moccasin
under control, which means I’m gonna
use my snake hook to gently pin its head and
then pick the snake up. Mario’s gonna bring in the
broad-banded water snake, we’re gonna put
them side-by-side, and show you the
distinct field marks so that you can properly
identify these snakes if you ever come across
them in the wild. – [Mark] Should we
get in for a shot? – [Coyote] I am gently going
to get position of her head just like this. There we go. I want my fingers just
behind the head like that. – [Mark] This is the
most dangerous thing you can do with
a venomous snake. – Yup. Never, ever, ever do what
you see me doing here. I’ll get full
control of the body. There we go. Yeah, well you notice
my hand is shaking. Now never, ever, ever try
to pick up a venomous snake like you just saw me do. The only reason that
I headed this snake is so that we can
get both of these right next to each other. I’ve got a gentle yet
firm grip on the back of her head just
behind the venom glands and full control of the body. You won’t see me
moving too much more for this scene. I just kind of gotta collect
my nerves, stay calm. Mario, go ahead and bring in
the broad-banded water snake. – [Mario] There we go. – Cool. – Lookin’ a little nervous. – Little bit. Kind of have a dangerous
snake here in my hand. She’s calmed down a bit. You can see her tongue’s
flickin’ out now, so that’s good. She’s not trying to
expose her fangs. Now the water moccasin,
because it it a pit viper and it has these two
massive venom glands, has a very
triangular-shaped head. You pan over to the
broad-banded water snake, and its head is
actually very narrow. However, when these
broad-banded water snakes are threatened, they
will flatten their heads and puff them up, forming
them into a triangle, which often times causes
people to misidentify them for water moccasins. It’s good news for the snake
if it draws off a predator, but it’s bad news if
that predator’s a human, and then unfortunately
that snake usually ends up being killed. Hoo, sorry, a little nervous. Let’s look on the heads as
well at the snake’s eye. So I’m just gonna slightly turn. – [Mario] I’ll move,
you stay there. – Okay, okay. You’ll notice that
the water moccasin has a vertical pupil while
the broad-banded water snake has a circular pupil. I don’t imagine anybody
out there watching is ever gonna get
face-to-face with either of these snake species, but if you happen upon one
and you see a vertical pupil, you know it’s a
moccasin and you know that it’s venomous. Now the last difference on
the face of these snakes is the fact that the water
moccasin is a pit viper. Now right up front there
you’ll see a nostril and just behind that
you see another hole in-between the
nostril and the eye. That is the heat-sensing
pit which allows these snakes to detect
not only their prey, but potential predators
in the environment. Now when you look at the
broad-banded water snake, you’ll notice that it
does not have pits, just eyes and nostrils. When you look at these
two snakes overhead, you can see how similar
they are in coloration. Now the broad-banded water
snake has more distinct banding, but if you were to
just see these snakes at a quick glance, they are pretty similar-looking. But you’ll notice that
the water moccasin has a much girthier
flattened body as compared to the
banded water snake. Look at that
difference right there. – [Mark] But their
scales look similar. – [Coyote] They do, don’t they? And both species have
rough keeled scales which allows them to
quickly be able to move through this rugged environment. – [Mark] Can we see the bellies? I know that’s another
big difference. – Yup. – [Mark] Wow, look at that. – Yup, now you’re never
likely to see the belly of these two snakes
next to each other, but as you can see, the banded water snake is
beautiful and checkered, and the water moccasin
is just kind of plain and cream-colored. Not that that makes the
snake any less special. (Mario sniffing) – I smell something, Coyote. – You do. I smell that same thing. Both of these snakes
right now are musking, which is a final defense
tactic in the event that something
tries to eat them. That musk is coming out
of their bottom ends, and if you’re a predator
and you get that in your mouth, it
tastes really bad. So as you can tell, these snakes have many
different defenses against potential predators. For everyone out there watching, we want you to know
that these two snakes are very difficult
to distinguish from one another. And if you see a snake
out there in the wild, definitely treat it
as if it’s venomous. If it’s a moccasin
and you take a bite, you’re gonna be in
a lot of trouble. So it’s best to just
always admire these animals from a safe distance. I’m Coyote Peterson. Be brave! Stay wild. We’ll see you on
the next adventure. All right, you
ready to let ’em go? – Let’s do it. – Back into the wild
with these snakes. Working with snakes
is one of the most dangerous aspects of this job, and the reason I do
it is so that we can learn about these
incredible animals and hopefully walk away
with a newfound respect for even the ones
that we are afraid of. If you thought this
episode was fascinating, make sure to go back
and watch as Mario and I compared an
alligator to a crocodile. And don’t forget, subscribe, so you can join me and
the crew on this season of Breaking Trail. (animal growling) (birds chirping)

Cottonmouth vs Water Snake!
Tagged on:                                                                                                                                                                     

100 thoughts on “Cottonmouth vs Water Snake!

  • August 4, 2019 at 3:49 am

    I think I broke a personal record of holding my breath when you held the water moccasin

  • August 4, 2019 at 5:16 am

    “He’s bitey”
    Us 🤦‍♂️

  • August 4, 2019 at 6:53 am

    Was the water moccasin transgender?

  • August 4, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Me: mom I’m going to be bit by a snake today mom: nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  • August 4, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Check your step

  • August 4, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    OMG I would be careful on every step soo yeah be CAREFUL!!!!!!!!!

  • August 4, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    I never going to notice the different I'll just run and leave that place

  • August 4, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Cayote: bitten by a snake doesn't scream
    Me: scrape indeed the hospital

  • August 5, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    I wanted too see the snakes fight! 🐍VS🐍

  • August 5, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    great show , thanks

  • August 6, 2019 at 7:29 am

    You cant use the dead excuse but steve Erwin taught us all, pinning the moccasin is hurting it and mean to the snake and provokes the snack to strike out of self defence. Learn from the master coyote

  • August 6, 2019 at 8:06 am

    I just want to stay away from these danger ropes

  • August 6, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Cottonmouth: bite*
    Venom: breaks through the wall* OH YEAH

  • August 6, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    senin anani sikim pezevenk 10 dakkami geri ver

  • August 6, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    My mom:he is crazy.me:lets watch him being bit by a crocodile

  • August 6, 2019 at 9:39 pm


  • August 7, 2019 at 3:17 am

    Coyote: *sees snake*
    Me: *sees snake*
    also me: *heart attack*

  • August 7, 2019 at 10:12 am

    When he said ahhhh when he first got cootmot mouth it looked like he said ahhh

  • August 7, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Coyote: This is gonna be slightly dangerous

    Camera man: Slightly is understatement

    Coyote: i KnOw I kNoW

  • August 7, 2019 at 11:59 am

    ONG I RANNN WEHN I SAW DIS 💀💀💀💀💯💯💯💯 1:21

  • August 7, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Cayote:dont worry i wanna be your friend
    Snake:i hope we never meet again

  • August 8, 2019 at 3:05 am

    I own many snakes. It's a shame how much people hate them– they are really amazing animals! If you see one in the wild, and you don't know what kind it is, just leave it be. They are more scared of you than you are of them.

  • August 8, 2019 at 3:19 am

    Please don't kill snakes that you find, people! They are more scared of you than you are of them. Just call your local wildlife services to come and relocate them if they are in your yard or house. Otherwise, if they are in the wild, just leave them be!

  • August 8, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Coyote:"Now this is gonna be slightly more dangerous. Other guy:"Slightly is an understatement. Coyote:"Yeah…I knew that…I-Thats what I meant." (sorry, "other guy" I forgot your name!)

  • August 9, 2019 at 8:56 am

    coyote: Found one! Yeahhh!!!
    me: *sees snake*AHHHHHHHHHH!!

  • August 9, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Vertical lines around mouth= nonvenomous (in N. America). Don’t rely on pupil or head shape to determine non/venomous. (Ex: coral snakes). And their eyes can change shape just like people’s do, depending on lighting! Remember, snakes are apart of the environment and help us. you can simply spray them with water to get them away from you.. and ALL viper bites in the US are treated with the same anti-venom so no need to kill them to “make sure you get the right meds” because you will then risk another bite. They’ll run tests to determine if you even need anti-venom (yes, you can get bitten by a venomous snake and just get pain meds, antibiotics, and a drip).

  • August 9, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    The snake at 0:17 scared the living hell out of me.

  • August 9, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    4:19 the snake open it mouth when you say ha

  • August 9, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    Wait so I shot a snake I thought was a cotton mouth and it didn’t have any checkered stuff on the belly or anything but it had the circle pupils. Could it have been a juvenile cottonmouth? Or just an odd patterned Banded water snake?

  • August 9, 2019 at 11:48 pm


  • August 10, 2019 at 12:19 am

    Coyote : gets bitten by snake dosent care
    Me: sees a harmless ant screams I’m going to die,

  • August 10, 2019 at 1:22 am

    My grandpa was bit by a cottonmouth and lost part of his thumb

  • August 10, 2019 at 11:44 am

    This is how I identify snakes 1. See it 2. Run faster than Usain bolt out of the area

  • August 10, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Danger noodle vs nope rope

  • August 10, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    if u want to find a snake u dont find it but, if u don't want to find it u get caught in an army of venomeos deadly snakes

    unless ur coyote

  • August 10, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    i love snakes

  • August 10, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    I remember my dad kill one a venames

  • August 10, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    A water one

  • August 10, 2019 at 10:13 pm


  • August 11, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Well I held a king snake

  • August 11, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Also their is no such thing as a posinus snakes

  • August 11, 2019 at 7:31 pm


  • August 11, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    Oh geez oh geez oh he's fine 😃😃😃😃😃😇😇😇😇😇

  • August 12, 2019 at 12:16 am


  • August 12, 2019 at 12:17 am


  • August 12, 2019 at 12:56 am


  • August 12, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    I love snakes

  • August 13, 2019 at 2:02 am

    Who else got jump scared

  • August 13, 2019 at 5:19 am

    Any other Texans thinking “that’s EAST Texas, not SOUTH Texas”?? 🙄

  • August 13, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    This is the reason we still need ar 15s in Texas

  • August 13, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Coyote: this snake is venemos one bite from this will send you to the hospital
    Me: why the frick are you holding it by the tail!!

  • August 13, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    I identify all snakes under one category: DANGER NOODLE

  • August 14, 2019 at 2:38 am

    ahhhh snake a snake! ohhhh it's a snake…. and it's a badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger

  • August 14, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Me: I don’t want them to die you:it’s ok me: 🙁

  • August 14, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Me : I don’t want them to die you:the cottonmouth can kill you me: NVM

  • August 14, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Now I now not to go in the woods

  • August 14, 2019 at 9:24 am

    And how do you know if a snake is a rattle snake🐍

  • August 14, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    4:00, Whack it in the head with a solid log. That will slow it down and make it easier to catch.

  • August 14, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Venomous snakes are demons from Hell!

  • August 14, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    8:23, You are making your head vulnerable snake. Humans have a lot of options when the head is up like that.

  • August 14, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    9:30, Well, I have a interest in chasing them and hunting for them.

  • August 14, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    10:20, Oh, you got your mouth open for the ground. Okay, shoves snake face in the ground so it can bite it.

  • August 14, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Maybe, you can put tape over the cottonmouth's head.

  • August 14, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Snake killer

  • August 14, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    If it’s all black that’s not the Venegas one

  • August 14, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    The water snake is gorgeous!

  • August 15, 2019 at 12:29 am


  • August 15, 2019 at 10:34 am

    "Now that is a moccasin but they're famously known as cottonmouths"? Dude. That is a cottonmouth. Cottonmouth is the correct name. They are incorrectly known as water moccasins. Also you're in Southeast Texas, not South Texas. But thank you for showing us one, very cool.

  • August 16, 2019 at 12:04 am

    i know you only comparing the snakes, but just gotta say for those who still belive that vertical pupils means venomous. it is not the case. It just means that it is nightactive while the watersnake with round pupils is active at daytime

  • August 16, 2019 at 9:18 am

    You are brave

  • August 16, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    God I miss Steve Irwin. Just cant enjoy anyone else sadly.

  • August 16, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    they are both reptiles

  • August 17, 2019 at 12:15 am

    excellent video

  • August 17, 2019 at 5:58 am

    Why do u that it's effective u get bite

  • August 17, 2019 at 9:36 am

    Can i have one

  • August 17, 2019 at 11:33 am

    I’m from Texas I’ve lived in Texas most my life and I gotta say this guy has Damascus steel balls. I would not be doing all that and I’ve always lived in the county.

  • August 17, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    The water snake is so cute

  • August 17, 2019 at 3:26 pm


  • August 17, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    This is like a snake review hahaha

  • August 17, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    I saw a water snake in my old and broken pool now home to frogs I was frog catching because the water was dirty and I wanted to save one until I saw a stick or so I thought pop out of the water I looked at it until the tongue came out of its mouth I was so out

  • August 17, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    9:44 just look at them eyes

  • August 18, 2019 at 6:11 am

    Can we all just take a moment and think about Coyote’s wet socks

  • August 18, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    i thot the snaks wher going to fite

  • August 18, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    couldn't you tell the difference by their eyes? poisonous snakes have a like diamond pupil and the non- venomous snakes have a circle pupil???

  • August 19, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Spade- shaped head and slitted pupils.

  • August 20, 2019 at 1:40 am

    yeah but how did he let go of the moccasin's head without getting bit?

  • August 20, 2019 at 3:36 am


  • August 21, 2019 at 12:32 am


  • August 21, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Thank you for your vids. A watersnake was in my florida downtown area by the gulf bay off the woodsy river and everyone freaked out it was a cottonmouth. They were seriously calling for a pitchfork mob, but it was your video that helped calm a few nerves. And because you did a service and made a big deal about the belly banding on the watersnake, everyone relaxed even more because they recognized it on our little park visitor. Thanks for helping save a rat killer snakes life.

  • August 21, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    3:12 what is that music

  • August 21, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    Me: ahh let’s watch coyote before I go to bed

    The start of video: *snake terrifying the soul out of me:


  • August 21, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    Coyote:oh oh no sksksks
    Me:and I oop sksk😂

  • August 22, 2019 at 2:19 pm


  • August 23, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I would never get wet because im a cat lol

  • August 24, 2019 at 3:31 am

    water sheep

  • August 25, 2019 at 5:04 am

    He’s a vsco girl lol sksksksks

  • August 25, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Dude:ah ah ah s s s

  • August 25, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    top 10 anime fights its here!!!


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