Description: Colors are variable. Adults are uniformly olive brown or black. The young and subadults are strongly crossbanded with dark brown.
Characteristics: These dangerous semiaquatic snakes closely resemble harmless water snakes that have the same habitat. Therefore, it is best to leave all water snakes alone. Cottonmouths often stand their ground. An aroused cottonmouth will draw its head close to its body and open its mouth, showing its white interior. Cottonmouth venom is hemotoxic and potent. Bites are prone to gangrene.
Habitat: Found in swamps, lakes, rivers, and ditches.
Length: Average 90 centimeters (35 inches), maximum 1.8 meters (6 feet).
Distribution: Most of southeast United States, particularly southeast Virginia, west central Alabama, south Georgia, Illinois, east central Kentucky, south central Oklahoma, Texas, North and South Carolina, and Florida (including the Florida Keys) (Figure E-10).
Figure E-10. Cottonmouth Habitat