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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Every May they start coming out of their winter dens and gather in large numbers. Every May I go out among them to take their pictures.







These are not snakes. :D



 

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I understand they are called Cotton Mouths Because the inside of their mouth is white.
Is that correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sometimes if you get too close they will tilt their heads back and open their mouths and show the white inside. Sort of a warning signal.
 

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There's no mistaking that head shape. Water Moccasins are members of the Pit Viper family.
 

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Enlarging the 4th photo, it's difficult to see the "pit" between nostril and eye. Also difficult to see the pupil - if it's round, the snake in non-venomous. If it's elliptical, then it venomous and in this case definitely a water moccasin/cottonmouth.
As Golphin pointed out, it may very well be a non-venomous Brown Water snake.
I've seldom seen a water moccasin that lightly marked. The majority of the water moccasins that I've encountered from East Texas to North Carolina (basically ALL of the Southeastern US) have been much darker.

WYT-P
Skyhunter
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
They are definitely Cottonmouths. Here's a few pics from last spring.





I stacked a series of pics I took of one snake stretching its jaws and put them in motion.




As far as coloration goes, the lightness or darkness and color itself varies by location. This swamp has two colorations. The orangish of the snakes in these pictures is primary. But there are greenish/black variations in this swamp. These are the only two color variations I've come across in swamp.



There is an industrial park nearby that had a big water filled ditch running through it and the Cottonmouths that came out of it we almost black with white highlights. With the expansion of businesses in that park, those snakes have pretty much all been killed off.

Here's one from northeastern North Carolina showing another color variation. Also the threat posturing showing why they're called Cottonmouths.


 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Nice ones, too.

I don't know if its the tannins in the water that make Cottonmouths lighter or darker, or if its genetic. I haven't made a connection between water types and color. Just that if I see one orange one, they're all orange, or they're all black or all brown. Whatever the color I see if pretty much they way they all are in that location. But move a mile or so away, and the colors can change.
 
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The head reminds me somewhat of a Corvette Stingray hood.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
They're really awesome snakes. Not the terrors a lot of people think they are. They don't back down. You can pretty much get right up on one and they don't flee like other snakes. But they typically don't come after you like a lot of people think. They may swim up to you while you're on the water, kayaking say, but they tend to stop a good distance from you and display their mouths. But if you violate them too much, they have a devastating venom. They'll also eat anything. And I mean anything. I've seen one trying to get road kill off the road. They'll eat birds, fish, frogs, and other snakes. In fact, they will eat rattlesnakes of the same size or smaller. It's represents the American character very well. Tough, unintimidated, powerful but restrained. It needs to be on a flag.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The Timber Rattlesnake is a good representative. A lot like the cottonmouth in many respects. Even more laid back. In fact, they're pretty docile. When you come up on them in the open, sometimes they rattle, sometimes that don't. But the ones I've come across tend to "bridge" their bodies, where they lift up a section like a bridge. Here's one from northeastern North Carolina I came across doing the bridging. He never rattled. But he's peering over his back at me. They have a terrible venom. The coastal variety not only have the destructive venom, but some have a neurotoxin as well.

 

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A Cotton Mouth has a zoro mask over the eyes and also a bullseye on the side. A venomous snake never has vertical lines on the lower jaw.
 
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