A snake researcher documenting a venomous cottonmouth turf war in North Carolina saw the tense fight turn goofy when a self-absorbed raccoon wandered into the water.
Video posted on Facebook by herpetologist Frederick Boyce shows at least five adult cottonmouths (each 30 to 35 inches long) were in the water when the raccoon made the clearly unnecessary decision to join them.
It is seen coming within a few feet of two entangled cottonmouths before exiting the mud without so much as a scratch.
“I think I was too surprised to be amazed: ‘Oh look, and here comes a raccoon!’,” Boyce told McClatchy News.
“These animals have shared these same habitats for endless millennia, since long before the first humans arrived. They each keep to themselves and mind their own business, and for the most part get along very well.”
Cottonmouths (also known as water moccasins) and raccoons aren’t considered to be fierce enemies. Adult raccoons can weigh up to about 25 pounds, which is too big for a cottonmouth to eat comfortably. And raccoons “are lazy hunters” that will eat snakes but prefer to avoid conflict, pest experts say.
The snake battle, which lasted more than 10 minutes, was recorded in a coastal woodland area that is featured on a Facebook snake research page called Cottonmouth Acres. The 25-acre spot is home to about about 100 “resident” adult cottonmouths and their offspring, according to Boyce, who works at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.
Cottonmouth Acres has more than 11,150 Facebook followers, and the raccoon video has transcended the page, with nearly 24,000 views and hundreds of reactions.
This includes commenters who applauded the raccoon for “minding his own business” in an awkward moment.
“Raccoon: ‘I didn’t see nothing, I don’t know nothing’,” Tammie Collier wrote.
“Raccoon is nuts,” Jeff Thomas posted.
“I wish I could be as brave as this raccoon!” Aimee Arnold Hornsby said.