When the water moccasin is threatened, it is known to stand its ground with a coiled body, open mouth to show that cotton-white interior and exposed fangs and will bite when handled or threatened. The water moccasin’s venom is more toxic than a copperhead’s, but fatalities from bites are rare. 7% of all snake bites in Texas are from cottonmouth snakes, but those bites account for only 1% of death by snakebite.
Western Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin
Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma
Habitat: Eastern United States (excluding the Florida cottonmouth range), including southern Illinois to Alabama, west to Oklahoma and Texas. Aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats which include ponds, swamps, marshes, lowland swamp, irrigation ditches and streams. Will be seen in brackish or salt water. Can live away from water.
Diet in the wild: Primarily fish and frogs, but will eat a wide variety of small vertebrates including other snakes as well as other cotton mouth snakes.
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Mice
Size: 20-30 inches long, although specimens up to five feet have been found; can weigh up to 10 pounds.
Family: Female gives birth to 1-20 young in August or September. Females have been seen guarding/defending their young.
Status: Least concern although drainage of wetlands for development and persecution can have an impact on populations.
Did you know? The water moccasin/cotton mouth is the only venomous WATER snake in North America and the world’s only semi-aquatic viper.
The water moccasin is a strong swimmer and will even enter the ocean. In fact, this snake has successfully colonized islands off the coasts of the Atlantic and the gulf coast.