Characteristics and Behavior:
The Florida Cottonmouth, a venomous pit viper, is known for its distinct appearance. It has a thick, heavy body with a broad, triangular head. Its coloration varies but often includes dark, cross-banded patterns on a background of olive to blackish-brown. A pale, cotton-white mouth lining is a key identifying feature. These snakes are known for their defensive behavior, often displaying their white mouth lining as a warning signal when threatened.
- The Florida Cottonmouth, as a subspecies of the Water Moccasin, is found exclusively in the southeastern United States, including Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and parts of South Carolina and Mississippi.
- They are commonly associated with wetland habitats such as swamps, marshes, and freshwater bodies like ponds and streams, where they can be found near water's edge.
- Florida Cottonmouths have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years in the wild.
- Mating typically occurs in the spring, with females giving birth to live young (viviparous) in late summer or early autumn. They can produce litters of 6 to 12 young.
- These snakes are opportunistic predators, feeding on a diet of amphibians, fish, small mammals, and occasionally birds.
- Venomous Pit Viper: Florida Cottonmouths are one of the few venomous snake species found in Florida. Their venom is hemotoxic, affecting blood and tissues, and serves primarily for subduing prey rather than defense.
- Semiaquatic Lifestyle: They are well-adapted to aquatic and semi-aquatic environments, often swimming with their head held high above the water. Their nostrils are positioned on top of their snout, allowing them to breathe while submerged.
- Mimicry: The habit of flashing their white mouth lining has led to the common name "Cottonmouth." It's a defensive behavior meant to deter potential predators.