(Editor's note:This article was originally published in 2010).

Zen Mocarski confirmed an answer that he admitted “is not one you necessarily want to hear.”

“All snakes can swim,” said the former spokesperson for the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Kingman office. “Now the question, is it common? The answer would be no. In Arizona, we do not have any true water snakes. … I have heard reports of rattlesnakes in the water. Is it common? The answer would be: It depends how you define common, but the answer would be no.”

The Game and Fish Department reminds residents each spring to be on the look out for venomous animals, such as rattlesnakes, sidewinders, and black widow spiders.

A boater photographed what Mocarski confirmed to be a rattlesnake swimming in Lake Havasu.

Mocarski said that although the site is uncommon, the reptiles could still strike and bite while in the water.

“Absolutely they could if they so chose,” Mocarski said. “They might view somebody on an inner tube … as a little island and they are trying to get out of the water. (They are) not necessarily trying to get after you, but just looking at getting of the water. It’s not real common. Can it happen? Sure it can. We’re not here to freak anybody out.”

Mocarski said swimming snakes would at least have their head out of the water, and their bodies’ movement would look similar to their land behavior. He said two rattlesnake myths are they have to be coiled to strike and they rattle before striking.

He said gopher snakes, which are non-venomous, resemble rattlesnakes and spend a lot of time near water.

He said area residents might start seeing snakes near roadways this time of year as the pavement helps to warm their body temperature, whereas during the summer months, the reptiles tend to stay under bushes or rocks to protect themselves from the heat.

“You can outrun a snake,” he said. “It looks like they are moving really fast because of that body movement. You can get away.”

He reminds residents to not step or reach into any blind spots.

Mocarski said if bitten by a snake, the victim should stay calm, remove any restrictive clothing to allow blood to flow freely through the body and seek immediate medical care. He said ice should not be applied to the area, and do not attempt to “suck” the venom out.

“The more excited you get, the faster you pump the venom through your system and realize that you have some time to get to a medical facility,” he said. “I’m not here to scare you. I’m here to protect you.”


(19) comments


Lived in Az over 50 years. There are no native "True water" snakes in Az. I just had someone report that they saw a snake in the Colorado River where it runs ( Abu do mean the water is moving fast, not in a lake, in the river) at 9:30pm. I have never seen a snake of any kind in Water in Az. Have always lived near rivers and creeks where the water is fairly cold, and moving fairly fast. So I am certain that is why a snake was never dumb enough ( a native Arizona snake ) to get in water, a river or creek ( bottom of canyon) where it's body would cool off so quickly it would get out ASAP or drown! But IF they did get stupid and get in the water it would have to be a lake, where the water is not moving so fast and up between lake havasu and bullhead, where it is so HOT that the water is likely warmer. But I feel it would be too cold at night for a native snake to brave its self into the RIVER.
A non native snake in the lake is more likely ( but I still have hard time believing a snake would want to swim in fast moving current that is cooler than the body temp it needs to be active enough to swim). The people that reported it said they tried to get a photo of it but " it dove" under water. I said it more likely drown!
Don't turn non native animals of any kind loose any where they don't live naturally.
When I was young and stupid I turned at least 3 snapping turtles loose in Clear Creek, just south of Winslow. They were all males, and likely died when it got cold, never turned loose a female. We used to pick them up wild off the highways in Oklahoma, and they make poor pets. No sightings of turtles ever in Clear Creek. Thank goodness.
The report of a rattle snake in lake havasu probably got thrown in or was on a boat trailer and found himself in the water, I bet he could not get out fast enough, there is no good they want to eat in the lake. Makes me feel sorry for the poor thing that found himself cooling off too quickly !


Out of the Honolulu Club and saw hoop snake. Are you sure he wasn't looking through beer goggles and saw an18 wheeler go by and blow a tire. Sometimes the tread comes off as a circle and then disintegrates when it hits the side of the road?


Laugh all you want but there have been sightings of hoop snakes. My friend saw one while leaving the Honolulu Club in Yucca. He said it rolled across the parking lot and then unwound before heading into a clump of sage brush. According to Indian legend a hoop snake can outrun a horse.


Thought the article was about snakes in the lake not in the city. Guess I read the wrong article...
Anyhow, this is nothing new with snakes in or near the lake. I, too, have been out here a long time and this is a natural occurrence. More often I see them on the shores just down from Sarah's crack heading back into the shoreline brush after having gone for a swim or a bit to drink. One should always be cautious when out. AND, good question... Is our local hospital equipped to handle snake bites? That, I would like to know.


Yep the REAL Snakes are in council chamber's Dean Don Margrett Lee Dave Mark,,Lets not forget Stuart and Larry too (the mayor and councils handlers) !,$100 water bill my eye,,Throw everyone of them out ! And the courthouse needs a good cleaning too ! And it isnt just the judges it the snooty people that work there too, They act like they are judges ! Im closin up my cat house no more sales tax from me guys and Dean and Don can drive to Crazy Fred's for their sugar,,,,, Re-Elect No One


YOU ARE RIGHT WINGMAN-But those are puppets in office-the REAL snakes are the ones controlling them. GOOD OLD BOYS CLUB HAVASU 100 (the mayor belongs to that one)Vendors were jobs-revenue-income! Eliminated jobs-big expense to our city-and now law suits!


Los Here is the definition of a Mohave Green: A green sidewinder with a bad attitude.


i am way more concerned about the snake's in office then the one's in the lake......


Still can't find the scientific name, or the common name for BLAZOS "Hoop Snake" Too many Pecos Bill novels I guess? Kinda like the rare and elusive mythical "Mojave green" which locals swear are a separate or crossed species from C. scutulatus and C. atrox. Show me a keyed out "mohave green" and you may have yourself a Mohave Sasquatch. You mean snakes can swim? Hold on there Nelly now ya got yourself a Chupra-cabra picked up from "That thar Walmarts"


Omg there have been snakes in Havasu water an on land for years, since I moved here in 72 what is the big deal? Hasn't stopped toursits from being here


To !: Haha good one. I wonder who we could get for the lead in that one. Hopefully Kate Beckinsale. She is one hot mama! But if it's on a budget, I suppose throw DesertRat into the female lead and give her pasties, and O'Really can be the sheriff, since he is in love with them. BEERS!


Could this have something to do with the BLM / carp killing adventure..usually when you mess with nature this happensoh thats right the BLM had nothing to do with it-I forgot-wink wink!


Years ago I came across a 5 ft Coachwhip snake swimming across the lake around the pump station down the lake, wrong thing to go over and check it out. The thing was doing everything it could to get on the boat, it reared up out of the water and got a hold of the bow rail, it probably didn't realize how far out in the lake it was and was tired and sluggish from being cooled off and just wanted to take a brake.


I've always feared the hoop snake. On a good day they can roll like 35 mph.


Ah the Rites of Spring! Days are getting longer, nights are getting warmer, the desert is in bloom, the paper is sensationalizing and trying to drive touristas away from the lake. Ain't consistency a beautiful thing?


I can see the screenplay writers working on a new film already


Are the Havasu hostpitals prepared to treat a person for snake bite or do they have to fly to Vegas.


Is that a Mohave Green? I always wanted to see one of those.


Another reason why I don't go in this lake.

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