Agkistrodon piscivorus – The Cottonmouth

Agkistrodon piscivorus is a venomous snake species commonly known as a cottonmouth or water moccasin and are one of the world’s few semiaquatic vipers. Cottonmouths are native to the southeastern United States, particularly in the coastal plains and swamplands.

Cottonmouths are medium to large-sized snakes, with adults typically reaching 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters) in length. The name “cottonmouth” comes from the whitish coloration inside their mouths, which they display when threatened. Cottonmouths exhibit various color patterns, ranging from dark brown to almost black. They often have crossbands or blotches on their bodies, which can be brown, olive, or black. Juvenile cottonmouths usually have brighter patterns and a yellowish tail tip.

These snakes are mainly found in and around bodies of water, such as swamps, marshes, slow-moving streams, and lakes. They are excellent swimmers and can even be found in brackish water. Cottonmouths are also known to bask on rocks, logs, and other elevated areas near water.

When threatened, they can strike if they feel cornered or provoked, but they usually try to escape when given the opportunity. Cottonmouths mainly eat fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and birds.

While their bites are rarely fatal to humans, their venom can cause significant pain, swelling, and tissue damage. If bitten by a cottonmouth, immediate medical attention is necessary. Cottonmouths are not currently listed as endangered. However, habitat destruction, pollution, and human persecution pose threats to their populations. Remember, if you encounter a cottonmouth or any other venomous snake, it is best to maintain a safe distance and allow the snake to move away on its own.

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