Giant Amphiuma and Cottonmouths in Florida with NKFHerping and my724outdoors.com!

Giant Amphiuma and Cottonmouths in Florida with NKFHerping and my724outdoors.com!

Out in Northern Florida searching for cottonmouths and other snakes.

Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus), also called water moccasins, are venomous snakes found in the southeastern United States. They’re called cottonmouths because of the white coloration on the inside of their mouths, which they display when threatened. 

Cottonmouths are semiaquatic, so they’re comfortable both swimming in water (hence their other common name of water moccasin) and basking on land. They are the only venomous snake in the U.S. that spends a lot of time in the water, Live Science previously reported. Other local names for cottonmouths include black moccasins, gapers, mangrove rattlers, snap jaws, stub-tail snakes, swamp lions, trap jaws, water mambas and water pilots.

Cottonmouths are pit vipers, as are copperheads and rattlesnakes, according to Sara Viernum, a herpetologist based in Portland, Oregon. “Like all pit vipers, [cottonmouths] have heat-sensing facial pits between their eyes and nostrils,” Viernum said. These specialized pits are able to detect minute differences in temperature so that the snake can accurately strike the source of heat, which is often potential prey. Cottonmouths rarely bite humans, and usually only do so when provoked. 

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