The stick floating in the water sure was wriggling a lot.
I had thought it was a stick, anyway. Then my guide told me it was a snake.
Why was a snake swimming a mile off the coast of Cedar Key? It had clearly bitten off more than it could chew (figuratively, thank goodness) and was looking for a place to get on dry land. The nearest island, Seahorse Key, was still quite a distance for a swimming reptile.
I paddled closer to snap a photo – who would believe me without one? – but my wise guide, Rod Hunt with Kayak Cedar Keys, warned me I was close enough.
“That’s a rattlesnake,” he said. “He’s looking for a place to get out of the water, and you sure don’t want your kayak to be that place.”
Eek! Things to add to my knowledge of rattlesnakes:
1) They can swim long distances.
2) They can climb kayak paddles.
It’s things like this you just don’t learn on your own, but with a guide like Rod, not only did I avoid becoming snake bait, I also got to hear about the natural history and lore of these Gulf Coast islands as we paddled. Rod is not only a kayak guide, but also a master naturalist, so he knows plenty about Cedar Key-area ecosystems and wildlife … rattlesnakes included.
Thanks to Rod Hunt (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Original Florida for hosting me on the paddling trip.