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Cottonmouth Observations

  Cottonmouths are a quirky and very interesting species of snake.  Cottonmouths are opportunistic feeders and will prey upon a variety of items, including living and dead animals.  Several times over the years I have observed unusual Cottonmouth behavior, and I wrote and co-authored the two Herpetological Review notes below concerning their behavior and feeding.
  During road cruising once in Louisiana, west of New Orleans, I also remember interesting behavior by a small adult (c. 18" total length) W. Cottonmouth on the road.  As I drove up to the snake I noticed it was rubbing the tip of its snout on the road surface numerous times.  I got out of my vehicle to investigate and found that the Cottonmouth was trying to pry up a very flattened and dead, adult Broad-banded water snake off the road surface!     
(Below) Adult Florida Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorous conanti) in a defensive posture, displaying the white lining inside its mouth!  Northwest FL snake. 



(Below) Florida Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorous conanti).  Juvenile snake, still heavily patterened.  Jackson Co., FL.   Spring, 2007.  Photo by Sandi Chapman.



(Below) Juvenile FL Cottonmouth - yellow tail tip.  Both Cottonmouths and Copperheads are born with yellow tail tips at birth.  They use their brightly colored tails as a lure to attract small prey.  Their yellow tails fade by their second or third year.  Photo by Sandi Chapman.


Pg. 4 Southern Hognose Snake Records & Observations