A water moccasin's bite causes a conflagration of searing pain and profuse bleeding to its victim. The hemotoxic venom causes nausea and immediate swelling in the bitten area, and it works quickly through the bloodstream, breaking down tissues and blood cells, and interfering with the blood's ability to clot.
A Boynton Beach man learned that the hard way over the weekend after being bitten by a water moccasin as he and his girlfriend pulled over on Alligator Alley to try to get a better look at an alligator.
According to the Broward Sheriff's Fire Rescue, the 29-year-old man was bitten by the snake in the foot as he stepped into the brush off the I-75 Saturday evening.
The victim, who remains unidentified, was driving eastbound on Alligator Alley with his girlfriend when they spotted an alligator on the side of the road around 7 p.m. Saturday.
The couple stopped their car and pulled over at mile marker 49 on the I-75 so they could get a better look at the gator.
Traditionally, water moccasins do not attack unless they are severely provoked or threatened. In all likelihood, the man inadvertently stepped on the snake, causing the serpent to strike his foot with a venomous bite.
As soon as the snake struck, the man was able to snap a photo of it so responders could identify it. The man and his girlfriend then immediately called for help. A water moccasin bite can be deadly if left untreated.
The Broward Sheriff's Fire Rescue along with the Miami-Dade venom unit responded to the scene. The man was then airlifted by a chopper from the Broward County Sheriff's Office and taken to the Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Weston, where he was stabilized. According to the Sun Sentinel, the man remains in stable condition.
The water moccasin is a pit viper, also known as a cottonmouth. It is the only venomous water snake in North America. They're part of the viper family, which includes rattlesnakes, which also frequent the Florida wilderness.
Water moccasins are common throughout the Southeast, including Florida and Texas.