Venomous cottonmouth is no match for Texan armed with grilling tongs, photo shows

When a snake recently slithered onto a Texan’s porch, it was quickly met by the cold metal jaws of grilling tongs, a photo shows.

Smith County resident MJ Madden spotted the snake hanging out in a wet plant tray outside their home, so they grabbed a pair of tongs and confronted the serpent, according to an Aug. 25 Facebook post they shared in a private group.

Madden just wanted to know what kind of snake it was, but commenters were shocked — and perhaps impressed — that Madden had come within inches of a venomous cottonmouth and simply snatched it like it was a sizzling hot dog.

“KITCHEN TONGS???? Holy cow!!” one commenter said.

“I’m glad you didn’t get to find out how quick they are,” said another.

“Are you serving it up for dinner or what?” a commenter asked. “Lol ya gotta use what’s handy!”

Madden, on the other hand, didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.

“They have worked beautifully for me for years,” Madden said of the tongs, adding that they’re 16 inches long. “They are handy for my grill, and very handy for grabbing snake heads.”

In Madden’s case, time was of the essence.

“I have two cats and a very eager dachshund, so I can’t just give it time to leave,” Madden commented on the post.

Madden reassured all the snake enthusiasts that the cottonmouth was placed into a bucket and relocated to a safer location.

“He’s swimming in the lake wondering what happened,” Madden said.

Madden did not respond to McClatchy News’ request for information.

While the tong technique worked out for Madden this time, and apparently several other times before, experts say it’s not a good idea.

“They are a little too short to make me comfortable,” Paul Crump, herpetologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, told McClatchy News in an email. “Nine times out of ten, the most appropriate thing to do is to ignore the snake, keep your distance, and go about your day. You’ll probably never see the snake ever again.”

If the snake absolutely must be moved immediately, the best tool to use is a long-handled, wide-headed broom, he said, though calling a professional to deal with the snake would be even better.

“Most non-occupational snake bites happen in the U.S. when people are messing with snakes when they do not need to. The best advice on how to ‘deal’ with a snake is to not deal with it at all, leave it alone,” Crump said. “Snakes are an important part of our ecosystems and provide services that benefit us.”

Cottonmouths, also known as water moccasins, primarily feed on fish and other aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures, but they will bite non-prey animals and people if threatened, according to experts. They account for 7% of snake bites in Texas, but less than 1% of all fatal snake bites in the U.S. are credited to the species.

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