2bnTheWild.com HOME

Jump down to: Related Images (if any) | Shooting Info | | E-mail me about this Image

These Ads help pay for this site but if you see one that seems inappropriate here such as one that is counter to the pro environmental theme please let me know which Ad and I will block it. Report a Bad Ad'


© 2009 Daniel W. Reed

I have come to the conclusion that more snakes are misidentified as a Cottonmouth than any other. In my home state of Tennessee I have heard of sightings of Cottonmouths from all parts of the state when, in fact, they are only found in the western half of the state. Apparently many people that see any snake anywhere near any body of water assume it to be a Cottonmouth Water Moccasin. Of course if these people see a snake away from the water it is a Copperhead unless it has rattles.

Myself, I have seen scores of water snakes but only a few Cottonmouths. If you should see a Cottonmouth it will likely open it's moth to reveal the white inside. This is the best way to identify this snake because the markings on a mature snake are often hard to make out as they become almost uniformly dark with age. The young are lighter and clearly marked and look something like a Copperhead (to which they are closely related) with yellow at the tip of their tail. They are rather short for their broad bodies rarely reaching 180cm (5'10") in length and more typically just over half that size.

While they will not attack a human unless provoked, if surprised, they may stand their ground for a time before slinking off and hiding. Their bite is worse than that of a Copperhead but not as bad as a Rattlesnake and is seldom fatal to adults who get treatment but like all pit vipers the venom flowing in the blood stream kills flesh (necrosis) along the way making a nasty wound. This species of snake is actually considered fairly good natured and tolerant of humans and is kept as a 'pet' by some herpetologist.

Image Type/Subject:
Close up
Agkistrodon piscivorus,Western Cottonmouth(Species)
Media: Photograph

Shooting Location: Fort Pillow State Park, Tennessee
Canon Digital Rebel XT / 350D Camera, Canon EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens, Canon Speedlite 550EX, 1/200 Sec., f/16.0, ISO=100

Back to top of page
© 2009 Daniel Reed