Lafayette Ice Water Moccasins

Agkistrodon piscivorus, (ag·’ki·strə·dän pə·‘si·və·rəs) better known as water moccasin, is a species of pit viper and endemic to the southeastern United States. Agkistrodon piscivorus (Isn’t that just a mouthful?) loosely translated means hooked-tooth fish eater. Another common name for this snake is cottonmouth, deriving from the white lining of its mouth which it opens wide when attacking. They grow between 2½ to 6 feet in length, weigh up to as much as ten pounds, and a have triangular head. These aren’t tiny snakes. Their habitat is in or near bodies of waters (e.g., streams, bayous, swamps, marshes, ponds, lakes, and drainage ditches), as they are semiaquatic. In fact, water moccasins are the only semiaquatic vipers in the world. These snakes are venomous, and a bite from one of them can be fatal. The venom prevents the body’s blood from clotting. Even if a bite is not fatal, it is serious and may cause internal bleeding, temporary and/or permanent muscle or tissue damage, or loss of an extremity/limb. Now, there is some debate about the degree of aggressiveness from these snakes. Many experts will say these snakes only attack when cornered, threatened, or provoked and make every attempt to avoid confrontations—or whatever the reptilian form of that is. Fine, if that’s the story they want to tell.

From personal experience growing up in the wooded bayous and encountering these belly-crawling creatures, I’ve seen these snakes stop and wait for humans to approach and even chase. They don’t retreat in fear. I’ve only seen these snakes in aggressive mode and never all lovey-dovie and cuddly. Even by trained snake handlers, at best, I’ve witnessed cottonmouths to be semi-docile—in a burlap sack! I’ve never had an experience with one that hasn’t been heart-stopping or made me want to adopt one as a pet. And I don’t care about their role or importance in the ecosystem. And as aside, when these things give birth, they don’t hatch from eggs. No, these are live births, and about ten to twenty of these snake babies make up a litter, which is probably why the bayous have so many of them. So, that’s my personal BIASED and UNPROFESSIONAL OPINION. Feel free to blast me in the comments. But for the sake of this post, I’ll pretend that I agree with the experts. According to the experts, water moccasins get a bad rep and rarely bite people. They just coil up and open their large mouths to scare away people or animals. They do not pursue fleeing people and if left alone will slink away. Uh-huh. (Okay, my pretending skills need some working on. Report me to PETA.)

My new sports romance, Ice Gladiators, being released on 02/15/20, is set in Louisiana. Anyone familiar with the area knows it rarely sleets or snows there. However, there is an abundance of snakes, especially water moccasins. And what would you expect from a state with cities below sea level and trenched with bayous? So, when I was considering names for the hockey team in the story, water moccasin was the first name that popped into my head. Not only that, some characters do seem a bit snaky, at least, at times. Besides, what would I look like naming them the Lafayette Bunnies or Louisiana Shrimps?

I chose Lafayette as the Water Moccasins’ home for no other reason than it is a beautiful city, rich in culture. It also happens to be the fourth largest city in the state, making it more than large enough to home a professional sporting team. Lafayette’s population is approximately 130,000. If you haven’t visited there, I encourage you to put it on your bucket list.

The Lafayette Ice Water Moccasins are an affiliate and/or development hockey for the Saint Anne Civets. As with any other professional hockey team, the Water Moccasins have a roster of twenty-three players, comprised of twenty-one skaters and two goaltenders. Their colors are black, vermilion, and purple. Black represents the color of adult water moccasins. Not all adults are black, but they are dark. Vermilion was chosen as the color for several reasons. One common association made with Louisiana is the Creole and Cajun food, which use lots of spices. Traditional Creole and Cajun spice are a reddish-brown/russet color. The function of spice is to add relish or zest to food. Each character brings a different enthusiasm and/or attitude to both the team and story. Purple is one of the trio colors of Mardi Gras, a celebration in Louisiana that rivals the commercialism and celebration of Christmas. It is not an understatement to say Mardi Gras is a big deal. Most businesses and schools close the week of Carnival. In the past, I’ve written several posts about Mardi Gras/Carnival (which, btw, is fast approaching) and the significance of the colors. I’ll list the links below. While some may associate the color purple with royalty, with regards to Mardi Gras, it typically is associated with justice. Without giving away spoilers, this color choice was the most logical.

The Water Moccasin team is owned by the Whittle, Darbonne, & Shaw Corporation, and the head coach is Randell Pernell. The team was founded in 1971 and became an affiliate of the Civets in 1977. Overall, the team has many talented players. However, this is not reflected in the statistics. The team struggles financially because very little investment has been put into it by the owners and also due to hockey not being as popular in the south as other sports. As a result, the team works with dated equipment and in a substandard arena. Players join and remain on the team because they love the sport.

Just as an aside, I know some may be wondering why in the world would an ice hockey team be based in a state known to be hotter than Hades—Hades is the Greek god of the dead and the underworld. Believe it or not, it does occasionally (as in every couple of years or so) sleet and/or snow in Louisiana. The annual snowfall is approximately 0.2 inches, which is enough to shut down entire cities. Don’t be snickering about our frozen precipitation challenges. One can’t learn to maneuver in what doesn’t occur. However, there is a market; although nowhere close to the market for football, baseball, and basketball, for ice hockey here. In fact, there have been several professional and semi-professional hockey teams in Louisiana including Alexandria Warthogs, Baton Rouge Kingfish, Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, Cajun Catahoulas, Lake Chares Ice Pirates, Louisiana Ice Gators, Monroe, Moccasins, and New Orleans Brass.

What is your opinion on water moccasins or snakes in general? Are you a lover, hater, or indifferent? Have you ever encountered or had an experience with a cottonmouth? Have you or someone you know ever been bitten by one? I would apologize for my prejudice towards water moccasins, only, I’m not sorry. I’m not a snake person, and my animosity towards water moccasins is personal and stems from almost being bitten as a kid. It was in a tree on a branch above my head where I was playing. I have friends and associates that are fond of reptiles, but I’m just not that girl. And while I dislike snakes, I do not advocate for their gratuitous or unnecessary slaughter. Again, I stress that I not a zoologist, veterinarian, or any other type of animal expert and cannot attest a professional opinion on water moccasin behavior. All I have is an individual, subjective opinion.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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