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Free Picture: Florida Cottonmouth Snake (A. p. conanti)

Free Picture of Florida Cottonmouth Snake (A. p. conanti)

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Picture of a “Florida cottonmouth” snake, Agkistrodon p. conanti, as it was climbing amongst foliage in its native Floridian habitat. When one thinks about snakes indigenous to the hurricane prone areas in the southeastern United States, the cottonmouths or water moccasins are probably the first snakes to come to mind, which is of importance to those who either live in these regions, or who might be deployed to such areas as a first-responder offering aid to those affected by such a disaster. The cottonmouths are large, dark, heavy-bodied snakes that are the largest snakes in the New World Agkistrodon species complex, and are the only members of the group that are semiaquatic (Gloyd and Conant, 1990). Three distinct subspecies are currently recognized; the “eastern”, “Florida”, and “western” cottonmouths.

As the southernmost subspecie of cottonmouths, A. piscivorus conanti ranges from the southeastern extreme of South Carolina through coastal and southern Georgia, south throughout the state of Florida and west along the Gulf Coast to the eastern face of Mobile Bay in Alabama (Gloyd and Conant, 1990). It’s the largest member of the A. piscivorus complex. Its head is conspicuously marked with distinctive vertical stripes on the rostrum and mental regions creating a “handle bar mustache-like” marking on the rostrum when viewed from the front, an effect that is nicely visible in the specimen pictured here. The head also bears a prominent pair of bilateral dark cheek stripes that are markedly bordered by light areas above and below (Gloyd and Connant, 1990); a pattern that can be so striking, untrained people accustomed to seeing the less colorful “western” specie, sometimes have trouble identifying the Florida subspecie as a cottonmouth (Wozniak, personal observation).

This image was created in 2005 and provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Edward J. Wozniak D.V.M., Ph.D.

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