June 2014

South Carolina's Deadliest Creatures

Author: Special to CH2

COTTONMOUTH OR WATER MOCCASIN
Cottonmouth snakes are strong swimmers and are primarily located in or close to water, where their prey resides.More mature snakes appear to be darker in color as the distinctive markings fade.

BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER OR FIDDLEBACK SPIDER (VENOMOUS)
The brown recluse spider is rarely aggressive, and bites are fairly uncommon. While it prefers the temperature-controlled habitats of humans, they are rarely seen and prefer to avoid contact of any kind.

BULL SHARK (AGGRESSIVE)
Many experts consider the bull shark to be the most dangerous in the world. They live near high-population coastal areas in the south and are known to travel through brackish and fresh water.
Although they do not prefer to eat humans, they sometimes attack out of curiosity or confusion (they think your leg is a fish). Bull sharks are between seven and 15 feet in length and can weigh up to 500 lbs.

SOUTHERN COPPERHEAD (VENOMOUS)
In the Southern US, copperheads are nocturnal during the summer months, but are generally active during the day in spring and fall. When approached by humans they will freeze, instead of slithering away. Unfortunately this behavior results in bites as they are camouflaged so well they are accidentally stepped on. Watch closely where you step if walking in pine straw!

EASTERN DIAMONDBACK RATTLESNAKE (VENOMOUS)
This is the largest venomous snake in North America, with some reaching up to eight feet long. Bites are extremely painful and can by fatal to humans if not treated quickly with antivenin. As with most reptiles, it prefers to avoid human contact and rattles its tail as a final warning before striking.

STINGRAY (BARBED AT THE TAIL)
Stingrays are very docile and the only reason they were included in this list is because of the barbed poison tail, which may accidentally come into contact with you under water.

AMERICAN ALLIGATOR (NON AGGRESSIVE)
Observing alligators in their natural habitat ranks high on the list of Hilton Head Island’s biggest attractions. A word of caution: DO NOT FEED THE ALLIGATORS. This is for their sake and yours. As our local Gator expert and critter wrangler Joe Maffo tells people, “A fed gator is a dead gator.” Alligators who are fed begin to associate people with food, and will lose their healthy fear of humans. An alligator who starts approaching people will be removed from its pond and killed.
DO NOT FEED THE ALLIGATORS!

SOUTHERN BLACK WIDOW (VENOMOUS)
These spiders are known for the red hourglass shape on the female, and for the fact that the female sometimes devours her mate.
Although not a large spider, the venom of the black widow spider is very potent.

CORAL SNAKE (VENOMOUS)
This snake is recognizable by it’s red, yellow and black banded coloring. Coral snakes are not aggressive and generally spend most of their time in sparsely populated areas. There are only an average of 15 to 25 coral snake bites in the U.S. per year. If you do happen to be one of the 25, however, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention. The venom of the coral snake can cause respiratory failure within hours and large doses of antivenin are required.

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