A Very Weird Snake Encounter

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WHEN A POLITICIAN SAYS “Let me be clear,” you know to prepare yourself for obfuscation of the murkiest sort. But when I say, “Let me be clear: those are not my shoes,” you can take it to the bank and cash the check. I was on the other side of the fence wielding a small camera. The day before taking this picture, I disturbed the same snake when I was cutting the grass with our small John Deere riding lawn tractor. He was between the grass and a narrow band of concrete that surrounds our pool. The snake got up onto the concrete and wiggled around some. I noted he seemed lethargic and looked quite lumpy. I figured he had found a good hunting ground for frogs and had eaten a few too many, then went on about my business and didn’t think about it anymore. I didn’t get a good enough look at him to tell for sure what he was, but figured him for some type of water snake. The next day I was on the other side of the fence with the mower again, doing my chores, when the snake emerged a few feet away from where he had been the day before, once again in a space between concrete and grass. I’m not adept enough with the mower to get very close to corners without stopping, backing up, etc. so I never got close enough that either one of us could seriously bother the other. About that time, buck came out to ask me some question, so I powered the machine down and told him about the snake. He spent a lot of time as a kid in local woods and the Escambia River swamp and knows snakes. He took the blue light aluminum pole you see in the picture — it has a small net on one end that we use for removing blackjack leaves and frogs from the pool — and went over to examine the snake. He couldn’t tell if it was a water snake or a water moccasin. Like me, he figured its lumpiness and sluggishness were caused by overeating at the all-you-can-eat frog and toad buffet. A few hours later, we came out to swim and found the snake dead and already covered up with ants. Any ideas on what killed the snake and what kind of snake it was?

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