This is a semi-aquatic snake that is usually found near water. Cottonmouth snakes require a warm habitat that includes brackish, slow-moving water like ponds, ditches, lakes, swamps, and quiet rivers. They are native to the southeastern U.S. from Virginia to Florida, and as far west as east Texas.
Cottonmouth snakes are often called Water Moccasins. Three subspecies are native to the U.S.; the Western, the Eastern cottonmouth and the Florida cottonmouth. The Florida cottonmouth Three subspecies are native to the U.S.; the Western, the Eastern cottonmouth and the Florida cottonmouth. The Florida cottonmouth is confined to the Deep South.
Their primary prey is fish that are small enough to be eaten whole, but they also eat frogs, non-venomous snakes, birds, squirrels and other rodents.
Their venom is hemotoxic which means it inflicts damage to the blood cells and tissues and can also compromise blood clotting abilities. Bites may result in hemorrhaging in the affected area, is very painful and can end up in amputation or death. Cottonmouth snakes are pit viper. They vary in size from 30 to 48 inches though some snakes can be as long as 74 inches. Cottonmouths can be black, olive or brown with wide paler bands on the backs and dark specks on the otherwise pale bellies. Adults are usually more uniform in color (dark) while younger snakes resemble copperheads (pinkish coloring). The distinctive differences from other water snakes are a dark line through the eye, elliptical pupils, and triangular head. Usually (unless threatened) cottonmouth snakes will be fully exposed above the water when they swim.
Their natural enemies are Alligators, Blue Herons, King Snake and Largemouth Bass.
The name "cottonmouth" came into existence because when threatened they coil and open their mouth very wide showing its pure white interior. Cottonmouths can be very aggressive. However, theyhave been known to display territorial and protective behaviors of habitat, and if agitated (especially stepped upon) they will react aggressively. Always be careful while exploring the wilderness, wear strong high boots and long pants, pay attention to your surroundings and know what to do in case of snake bite.