When WFTV reporter Jeff Levkulich reported live from Florida's Seminole County on Tuesday afternoon, he was joined by animal expert Bob Cross and a very big, angry water moccasin.
Cross said a homeowner found the snake outside her garage in Heathrow Woods. He expected it slithered to higher ground to escape rising waters in the nearby swamp.
Cross, who had put the snake in a bag, temporarily released it for the WFTV camera. It immediately curled up, showing its fangs and white mouth. The snake measured 4 feet and appeared to be as thick as a grown man's forearm.
”It's very dangerous," Cross told Levkulich.
The snake attempted to escape, but was quickly wrangled by Cross. Obviously perturbed, it whipped about quickly, continuing to show its fangs.
”He's fighting there,” Levkulich observed.
Water moccasins, also known as cottonmouths (hence the white mouth), are common in Florida. Members of the pit viper family, they live in water and swampy areas. Florida Fish and Wildlife said the snakes are not necessarily aggressive, but should be avoided.
"The lady in the house said she opened her garage door, and came within two feet of the snake," Cross said.
Cross speculated the snake was around 10 years old, noting its skin was quite dark. FWC said water moccasins are commonly mistaken for nonvenomous water snakes, but they have a vertical pupil, a facial pit and their eyes are not visible when viewed from above.
Central Floridians should take note that water moccasins will not be the only type of snake on the move as Hurricane Dorian moves past.
"All snakes, everywhere, when there's flooding will move to higher ground," Cross explained. "They're kind of like alligators. They don't like to lay in the water, they like to be on the banks near the water, and go in the water when they desire. But when flooding comes along, it forces them to higher ground."
The snake spent the back half of the live interview curled in a ball, showing its mouth.
Cross reiterated the water moccasins aren't overtly aggressive, but did say children are more at risk of being in grave danger than adults if they are bitten.
”It's all about body mass versus venom,” Cross explained.
Emergency officials say anyone who is bitten by a venomous snake should call 911 immediately.