The water moccasin, or sometimes called cottonmouth snake, is the only venomous water snake in North America. The snake is a species of pit viper because of its distinctive triangular and blocky head and the fact that the moccasin has heat-sensing facial pits between its nostrils and eyes;it allows it to detect the smallest change in temperature so that the snake can accurately strike the source of heat, which is mostly a prey. The snake has a thick body and its bite is fatal. These snakes rarely bite humans and attack only when threatened. These semi-aquatic snakes are excellent swimmers and enjoy swimming in water and basking on land as well. They are mostly found in the southeastern range of the US.
The reason why water moccasin is also called the cottonmouth snake is because of the white coloration inside the snake’s mouth. Some other local names include water pilot, water mamba, trap jaw, swamp lion, stub-tail snake, snap jaw, mangrove rattler, gaper, etc. Let us look at some water moccasin facts below: Size and appearance Water moccasins can be large snakes, and the adults can reach up to two to four feet in size. The female snakes tend to be smaller in size. The eyes are cat-like and the jowls are large because of their venom glands. Most can identify the snake, thanks to its distinctively blocky and triangular head. Its neck is thin when compared to its muscular and thick body. The color of the ridged scales can vary from dark brown or olive to black.
Some are also yellow in color. But, the snake’s belly will be much paler than its back. When the snakes are young, they have a striking appearance with bold patterns. But these patterns and markings start to fade away once they age. In addition to this,young water moccasin snakes also have a bright-yellow tail tip that is mostly used to lure prey like frogs. Unfortunately, there have been incidents where people confused the water moccasin snakes with harmless water snakes like the brown water snakes and the northern water snakes. But, there are some striking differences between the two:
Habitat Found mostly in the southeastern region of the US, water moccasins can mostly be found in terrains like drainage ditches, marshes, swamps or at edges of streams, lakes, and ponds. Sometimes, these snakes can also be found on land, warming up their cold blood on fields or near water bodies. If on land, these snakes can be found on logs, stones, or branches, not too far away from the water body. The reason why snakes, in fact, most reptiles, bask is that the sun warms and keeps up their body’s temperatures, which chills fast under water.
Feeding Like most pit viper snakes like rattlesnakes, the water moccasin’s head has pits between its eyes and nose. These pits are capable of sensing heat and allow the snake to notice subtle changes in temperature. This feature is useful to track prey and strike a venomous bite. Although can be seen at any time of the day, water moccasins prefer to hunt at night. Some common preys for the snake are turtles, lizards, small mammals, amphibians, fish, etc. But, if given an opportunity, these snakes can also devour small alligators and other snakes, including smaller water moccasins. The water moccasin senses its prey first and bites it.
When the venom gets injected successfully, the snake chases the prey down until it is dead. Behaviors Despite its reputation of being extremely aggressive, water moccasins rarely bite humans. But these snakes will not back down, unlike most non-poisonous snakes which flee when they see danger approaching. When the water moccasin senses danger, it will coil its body and open its mouth, exposing the white coloration inside. The white color is very visible in contrast to the snake’s dark colors and is visible to the human eye. This display serves as a warning signal to potential predators as well. Effects and treatment for water moccasin bite The bite of a water moccasin is very potent. The poison contains hemotoxins that cause the red blood cells to cause an anti-coagulating effect and, overall, prevents your blood from clotting. Deaths are rare, but that does not mean the venom cannot kill you. Once the venom spreads throughout the body, it can cause hemorrhaging of the circulatory system. The bite can cause symptoms like:
How to get rid of water moccasins?
There are many species of snakes that live in water but are non-poisonous in nature. But, a water moccasin is a venomous snake and its bite can be fatal. The first line of business should be identifying the snake. Typically, water moccasins can grow up to four feet in size and have markings all over their black or brown body. You can also identify one if you see a water snake with a triangular head or has a white coloring inside its mouth.
Basically, this step suggests that making the environment non-desirable for the snake is one of the best ways of preventing the snake from entering your property without putting yourself in harm’s way. Remove large stones and barriers so that the snake cannot slide under. Fill all gaps on the fences so that no snake can slither in. You can also set commercial snake traps on your property.
Calling a professional who is skilled in dealing with snakes is always a good idea. They have the knowledge and the equipment needed to capture the snake without having to kill it. They also have medicines that can counter-attack the venom inside the victim’s body if someone ever gets bitten. Bottom line The water moccasin is a very deadly snake. They are venomous in nature and will stand their ground. If you ever encounter this or any other species of snake, the first thing to do is never get close and back away without startling the creature.