Monday, August 30, 2010

Cottonmouth Water Moccasin

If you couldn't tell from past entries, I'm a big fan of poisonous/venomous creatures. So today we're going to learn about the only venomous water snake in all of North America: the Cottenmouth Water Moccasin. It goes by oh so many other names; sometimes it's just Cottonmouth, sometimes it's just Water Moccasin, sometimes it's  Water Viper, Swamp Moccasin, or just plain Rattler. Either way, Agkistrodon piscivorus refers to the semi-aquatic snake that has its range throughout the South Eastern United States.

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Cottonmouths are relatively large snakes, and can grow up to 48in in length. As far as coloring goes, they are darker on the top, ranging in color from olive green to black, and have a lighter underside. The give birth to live young which are lighter in color and more patterned. They grow darker and more uniform in color as they age. Throughout their lives they rarely move far from a permanent source of water.

Cottonmouths an be quite aggressive. They will stand their ground against threats, and that, combined with a strong venom, can result in a nasty situation. They have even been known to approach humans. The mouth of a Cottonmouth can snap shut extremely fast, quickly injecting the venom. Their venom is hemotoxic, which means that it breaks down red blood cells, reduces the ability for blood to clot or coagulate, and causes hemorrhages.

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