Tonight on Snake Salvation, disaster strikes when Pastor Jamie’s father Greg Coots is bitten by the copperhead he handles in church. Greg, a bishop of the Holiness faith, has endured three snake bites before. And at age 61 with an enlarged heart, refusing to get treatment for the copperhead bite could mean death.
Copperheads aren’t the only deadly snake the handlers use in church worship. The southern U.S. hosts three main kinds of venomous snakes – all of which are handled in the Coots’ church. Get to know them here.
These pit vipers – named for the prey-detecting “pits” on the sides of their heads – are found across the United States, preferring areas where their brown exterior blends into their surroundings. The best way to identify copperheads is by the dark brown hourglass-shaped markings on their backs, not just by their namesake copper-colored heads. Generally not aggressive unless provoked (or picked up in church), these snakes will freeze when approached. Here, Big Cody chases what he thinks to be a pit viper.
The largest type of venomous snake in the United States, the 33 species of rattlesnakes also belong to the pit viper family. Heed rattlers’ warnings of shaking their tails when they feel threatened, as these snakes are equipped with some serious velocity, able to strike at up to one-third their body length. Many species of rattlers exist in the U.S., but the most common in the Coots’ Kentucky woods is the timber rattlesnake.
Highly aggressive snakes usually found around water in southern states, these stout reptiles are named for the light color of their mouths, which they display to scare off potential predators. Lacking unique markings to identify them, you can tell cottonmouths apart from other non-venomous water snakes by their distinctive hostile behavior. When confronted, the cottonmouth holds its ground, vibrates its tail and gapes its mouth in a threatening display, ready for attack.
Will Greg Coots survive the attack? Find out tonight on an all-new Snake Salvation at 9P.