click on pictures for larger images
The Florida Water Moccasin or Cottonmouth – (Agkistrodon piscivorus) – can be found in the eastern United States from Virginia to Florida and Texas. It lives in both water and terrestrial environments. It likes to inhabit freshwater ecosystems such as swamps, streams, lakes, and drainage canals but can also be seen on land usually near one of these freshwater bodies of water. They feed on insects, rodents, rabbits and other small creatures. The Florida Water Moccasin is one of 50 species of snakes in Florida but there are only 6 that are dangerous to humans and should be avoided. The Florida Museum of Natural History lists the snakes of Florida, their characteristics and how to identify them. I am not a snake lover and usually avoid them whenever I can. People often confuse the Water Moccasin to the common Watersnake which is harmless.
The Florida Water Moccasin can bite you if provoked and the venom it injects in you must be treated in a hospital by a anti-venom medicine. That is one reason I wear thick footwear and pants if I am hiking through an area where I might encounter these snakes.
I liked learning more about the Cottonmouth at another website at the Univ. of Florida Dept. of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. It shows pictures of Watersnakes and Water Moccasins next to each other and defining characteristics of each. The Cottonmouth has a much thicker body than the Watersnake, a short thick tail and blocky diamond shaped head. Watersnakes and other non-venomous snakes have bodies that are much slender for their length. There are very good descriptions of The Cottonmouth and other snakes at the Florida Dept. of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. The pictures of the Water Moccasins in this article were taken at the Calusa Nature Center in Ft. Myers. and are live snakes.