Cottonmouth: Agkistrodon piscivorus
The cottonmouth, or water moccasin, is a dark-colored, heavy-bodied
snake that can grow to an average of 2-4 feet in length.
Juvenile cottonmouths are a brown or tan color with darker, reddish
brown crossbands containing many speckles down the back.
Juveniles also have bright yellow tail tips. As cottonmouths
age, the color becomes darker, so that adults show only a trace of
the original pattern or are uniformly dark. Cottonmouths have
a broad head and a dark stripe that runs through the eye, and there
is a deep facial pit between the eye and the nostril.
Cottonmouths are often confused with the more common,
nonvenomous water snakes. They can be distinguished by the
vertical pupil, presence of a facial pit, and when viewed from
above, the eyes of cottonmouths are not visible because of an
overhanging brow ridge. Water snakes have round pupils, no
facial pit, and when viewed from above, have visible eyes.
Cottonmouths are found throughout Florida in wet areas,
including streams, lakes, marshes, swamps, retention ponds, and
roadside ditches, although they can wander far from water.
While cottonmouths are not necessarily aggressive, they are
venomous and should be avoided when encountered.