Animals / Reptiles / Snake Types / Water Moccasin – Cottonmouth, Aquatic US Viper

Water Moccasin – Cottonmouth, Aquatic US Viper



The deadly water moccasin or cottonmouth is a snake that can be found in the Southeast of the United States. The name cottonmouth refers to the white inside of its mouth it displays when showing its fangs in an aggressive manner. The cottonmouth is a good swimmer and spends most of its time either in the water or near the water, hence its other common name – the water moccasin. It is the only “semi-aquatic” viper in the world. Their bodies are very buoyant and they appear to almost float on top of the water when they swim. There are other water snakes, like the banded and the brown water snakes that inhabit the same regions, but they generally do not have bodies as thick as the cottonmouth and are not venomous. On the land it can be confused with its cousin the copperhead as they have a similar appearance.



cottonmouth face


cottonmouth in leaves


It is active at night as it preys on fish, birds, amphibians and other snakes. The cottonmouth is one of the few snakes that will eat dead animals but it prefers fresh fish. It grows to be up to 6.5 feet (1.9 m) in length but is more commonly about half that size. The snake is rather thick and many of them are mostly and sometimes completely black but some have lighter coloring, especially underneath, with bands and spots as well.


cottonmouth pebbles


This snake is very dangerous and can cause death to its victim. The bite from this snake destroys red blood cells and flesh (hemotoxic) and effects blood clotting. The venom is used in the medical field to treat people with certain blood disorders.


cottonmouth rocks

Going through a shed cycle. Photo credit: Aaron Goodwin at




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