- This is an important snake to be able to identify in the state of Florida. This is a juvenile cottonmouth snake. As with many snakes, its appearance
is different from that of the adult snake. The young cottonmouth has angular brown and tan bands in a pattern. As the snake ages, these bands fade, and the snake
becomes almost entirely black. The only real identifying coloration marking on the adult is the black band that extends back from the eye. The cottonmouth, or
water moccasin as it's also called, also has an elliptical pupil (see the above eye, how it's cat-like), as do all venomous pit vipers.
Click here to see photos of the Adult Cottonmouth
, which is darker, almost black.
Regardless, both the adult and the baby
water moccasin have the same body shape, and that's the easiest way to identify this snake. It's a fat aquatic snake, probably the fattest native snake in Florida.
An adult Eastern Diamondback might be fatter, but if you see a large, fat, black snake in the water, it's likely a moccasin. If you see a small fat snake with a brown/tan
pattern, it could be a juvenile water moccasin. Of course, it also might be a harmless snake, such as the banded water snake or Brown Water Snake. The baby
cottonmouth snake has a very painful bite - it's too small to kill a person, but the bite is extremely painful and will dissolve and permanently destroy tissue. The young
snakes will not hesitate to strike if threatened, so if you see the above snake, please leave it alone!
Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Snakes page for tips and advice.
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Cottonmouth Snake relationship with Native Americans - The Native Americans were the first people to have to deal with the cottonmouth snake, and they are credited with giving the creature
its other moniker of “water moccasin”. The cottonmouth snake is a semi-aquatic creature that feeds on the small animals living in streams and bodies of water. It rarely wishes to interact
with humans, though if antagonized, this pit viper is likely to strike just as any other snake. The danger with the water moccasin is that they can and will bite underwater. Swimmers that
unknowingly connect with a snake while swimming might find themselves the victims of a bite. It is almost always an accidental contact that procures the baby cottonmouth bite, though other common
reasons for attacks have to do with people trying to kill the snake because they feel threatened by its close proximity. The best thing you can do when you see a cottonmouth is to leave it
alone. The snake does not see humans as prey; it will not come after you. Don’t try to kill it or approach it. Most vipers can strike too fast to counteract, and they often have a greater
reach than people give them credit for.