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Cottonmouth

Agkistrodon piscivorus

Description:

Short heavy bodied pit viper; head wider than the neck and mouth white inside. These snakes range in color from mostly dark brown to having broad yellow-brown bands. They tend to swim with most of their body on top of the water and visible unlike other non-venomous snakes that swim with most of their body below the surface of the water.

Habitat:

Freshwater habitats of all kinds. The world's only semi-aquatic viper, its a strong swimmer and can tolerate saltwater.

Notes:

I've encountered several water moccasins and none of them have been aggressive. My experience has been that they do not move out of your way but may give enough movement to warn of their presence. When hiking through wetlands, its up to you to be observant and avoid stepping too close to these guys. They have excellent camouflage.

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6 Comments

Karen Hileman
Karen Hileman 10 years ago

I've been searching online about this issue and so far the only website I've found that list it as invasive is the one I mentioned. Most of the other sites I've found call it a Florida water moccasin. I'll switch the common name over to cottonmouth in preference to the herpetologists.

LisaPowers
LisaPowers 10 years ago

Thank you for pointing out in your notes that none of them have been aggressive. This has been my experience too when working with the western cottonmouth. Like most snakes, they just want to be left alone!

LisaPowers
LisaPowers 10 years ago

Karen,
I agree with Aaron_G! The cottonmouth (the term water moccasin can be used for both the cottonmouth and non-venomous watersnakes depending on the part of the country you are in; therefore herpetologists prefer to not use it) is a native Florida species.

Aaron_G
Aaron_G 10 years ago

I'd like to know what criteria was used by that website to reach their conclusion. I've never heard such a thing about the cottonmouth. The only way I can fathom that it would be considered "invasive" is if the western subspecies was introduced into Florida. Otherwise, the cottonmouth belongs in FL.

Karen Hileman
Karen Hileman 10 years ago

Hi Tom Reinert,
Water moccasins are fairly common in Florida but according to IveGot1.org, they are invasive.

It found it listed on this website:
http://www.eddmaps.org/florida/species/t...

Tom Reinert
Tom Reinert 10 years ago

Nice picture but that is a native snake.

Karen Hileman
Spotted by
Karen Hileman

Palm Bay, Florida, USA

Spotted on Mar 25, 2012
Submitted on Jul 29, 2012

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