• The 24-36 inch copperhead is responsible for approx. 35 % of all venomous bites in USA. Read More
  • Cottonmouth snakes forage by ambushing their prey, and will avoid humans at all costs. Read More
  • The average death rate from krait bites in Asia is 7 %. It is highly feared in India. Read More
  • The puff adder can strike with lightning speed and most of its victims are from Africa. Read More
  • Cobra's are the largest and deadliest snakes in the world. Read More
  • Known by its triangular head. The venom from the Russel's viper causes renal failure within hours.
    Read More
  • The coral snake is not as dangerous as people think and fatalities are uncommon.
    Read More
  • The gaboon is a rather calm snake, but deaths from its venom occur fast.
    Read More
  • Lancehead snakes accounts for approx. 90 % of all snake envenomations in South America.
    Read More
  • The rattlesnakes rattle is composed of scales. Amputations from its bite are common.
    Read More
  • The taipan snake has the lowest LD50-value of all snakes. 0.030 mg/kg can kill 50 people.
    Read More
  • Bushmasters are the largest vipers and lengths of 6 feet are common.
    Read More
  • The black mamba is largest and deadliest snake of Africa. Most, but not all, survive its bite.
    Read More
  • Fangs of sea snakes are mostly to short to penetrate human skin. Related to Cobras!
    Read More
  • Tiger snakes are roaming around Australia, including islands such as Tasmania.
    Read More
  • The death adder can attract prey by wiggling its tail. Its venom is slow to take effect.
    Read More
  • The boomslang is long and slender perfectly camouflaged African snake.
    Read More
  • Burrowings asps have the longest fangs relative to their head size of any snakes.
    Read More
  • The Moorish viper is the largest viper in Africa. It has a zig-zag pattern on its body.
    Read More
  • The horned viper is a typical ambusher. Usually, its bite is not deadly.
    Read More
  • The night adder is responsible for most venomous snake bites in Africa - it is not deadly.
    Read More
  • The most common types of antivenom and how it is produced and used.
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  • Read about people who has survived snake bites and see how bites affected them.
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  • See annotated videos of venomous snakes from around the world.
    Read More
  • See annotated images of venomous snakes from around the world.
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  • How did snakes evolve and how is the geological record of snakes.
    Read More
  • See a top 5 list of the most venomous snakes in the world.
    Read More


Drawings are ©

Cottonmouth Snake: Ambusher of the Wetlands

By Anders Nielsen, Ph.d.

The cottonmouth snake, Agkistrodon piscivorus, is comparatively abundant in wetlands and other aquatic environments. It is larger than its close relative, the copperhead snake, and it can reach a length of 30 to 48 inches (75-125 cm).

Cottonmouth snake facts - courtesy of

Links: Gaboon

Coral snake



The cottonmouth consumes a diverse diet of animals. Its nutritional regime includes other reptiles, fish, amphibians, invertebrates, birds, and mammals.

The cottonmouth is different from many other snakes because it does not swallow its prey until it is dead. This behavior is seen when the prey is held in the snake's jaws until it finally succumbs to the venom.

Prey that is likely to bite back is first bitten and then released; when the prey escapes, the cottonmouth is able to track it down using its Jacobsen's organ to sense the prey.

Links: Cobra

Puff adder

Russel's viper

Links: Krait



Cottonmouth Snake Bite

The cottonmouth produces its venom in glands close to where the jaws join. When it bites, the muscles around the glands squeeze venom from the glands through ducts to the fangs. The venom destroys blood cells and reduces the normal coagulation and clotting abilities of the blood. This results in hemorrhaging where the poison has penetrated into the prey.

Facts and information about the Cottonmouth snake
Cottonmouth snake - mouth and pupils

Other Commonly Used Names

The name cottonmouth originates from the cotton-like color in its mouth. The name water moccasin is also often used instead of cottonmouth snake.


It is a widespread misunderstanding that the cottonmouth snake is aggressive compared to other snakes.

In a study by Gibbons and Dorcas (1998)1, this misunderstanding was challenged when data suggested that the cottonmouth is not as aggressive as people believe.

They demonstrated that, when the cottonmouth was threatened, it would try to escape in more than 50 percent of the incidences.

Most of the cottonmouths used threat displays to avoid the danger in the form of an artificial hand, and less than one out of three snakes tried to attack the artificial hand.

The cottonmouth snake is black, brown, or olive colored with lighter bands on its side.

Life Cycle

The eggs of a cottonmouth mature inside the female's body and hatch within the female before birth. The size of a Cottonmouth litter ranges from 6-12 juvenile snakes that can be anywhere from 8-10 inches long (10-25 cm) and 0.75 inches (2 cm) in diameter.

Most female cottonmouths reproduce every second year. The percentage of females reproducing depends on prey availability, temperature, and size distribution of females in the population. Small female cottonmouth snakes are less likely to give birth. In a Virginia survey of cottonmouths (Blem & Blem, 1995)2 it was found that winter mortality during hibernation had a huge impact on fertility rates.


1Gibbons & Dorcas. "Defensive behavior of cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) toward humans", COPEIA Volume 1, pp. 195-198 (2002)

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