A water moccasin, or cottonmouth, was minding its own business last week in Florida when Austin Hatfield, 18, captured it. Now it’s dead, the man got a bite on his lip, and criminal charges may be pending.
Some media reports, like Click Orlando‘s, have hinted — with a sly giggle — that the man actually was kissing it when it bit him, but that’s not exactly true.
After capturing the snake while swimming, Hatfield hid it in a pillowcase — you know, for safe-keeping — at his girlfriend’s house, where he also lives, Tampa Bay Times reported. Unluckily, Austin just so happened to be lying in bed when it shimmied loose of his pillowcase prison and crawled across his chest.
Certainly quite terrified at this point, he tried to catch it — but too late: He was struck right on the kisser. That unfortunate fact led to some suggestive news headlines.
“Apparently, he did not try to kiss it,” confirmed Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gary Morse.
A water moccasin attack isn’t anything to laugh at, but it isn’t the state’s most dangerous or most common serpent, WTVR reported. That honor goes to the rattlesnake. The cottonmouth, which can grow to four feet in length, are found in freshwater lakes and swamps.
And a bite from one sounds incredibly unpleasant indeed, according to Morse.
“Their venom is toxic and it causes extreme swelling, pain and it could be fatal. It’s a good idea not to mess with them.”
That’s good advice — for more than one reason. This man is expected to recover — he was rushed to Tampa Bay Hospital Saturday night — but now may face criminal charges.
It’s illegal to have venomous snake there without a permit, and he didn’t have one. Since its almost-fatal bite, the captured water moccasin was euthanized for identification purposes.
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]