Since the cottonmouth spends much of its time in the water, it needs to bask in the sun throughout the day to maintain a constant body temperature. Young cottonmouths flick their brightly-colored tail tips to attract frogs and small fish within their striking range.


  • The cottonmouth is normally dark green, brown, or black. It has patterns of darker and lighter shades especially along its sides.
  • The juvenile is brightly colored with reddish-brown crossbands on a brown background.
  • The cottonmouth is also known as the water moccasin.

Fun Facts

  • The species name piscivorus actually means “fish-eater.”
  • The cottonmouth exposes its white mouth when threatened. This gives its predator warning.
  • The cottonmouth is a pit viper. It possesses a pair of heat-sensing pits between its eyes and nostrils. The pits are able to detect temperature differences of as little as 0.05oC higher or lower than that of the background. This allows the snake to strike very accurately at the source of heat—its prey.

Created Kind Members

Rattlesnake, copperhead

CLASS: Reptilia (reptiles)
ORDER: Squamata (amphisbaenians, lizards, and snakes [scaly])
FAMILY: Viperidae (pit vipers and vipers)
GENUS/SPECIES: Agkistrodon piscivorus

Size: 20–48 in (51–121 cm)
Weight: Nearly 2 lbs (0.9 kg)
Original Diet: Plants
Present Diet: Fish and other aquatic life; sometimes small mammals
Habitat: Many varied aquatic regions of the southeastern U.S.