Water Moccasin Essay, Research Paper
The water moccasin, also known as moccasin snake, and cottonmouth (called this because when it is threatened it throws back its head and shows its white-lined mouth as a warning signal), swamp adder, gapper, trap jaw, water moccasin, and low land moccasin. Trap jaw, water moccasin, and cottonmouth are the more common names for it. Belonging to the family Viperidae, it is Agkistrodon piscivorus, phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Crotalidae lives in the southeastern United States of a line running from Cape Charles, Virginia, to the middle of the Alabama-Georgia border, then to southern Illinois, and from there to where the Pecos River and the Rio Grande meet in Texas.
The specific epithet piscivorus means, “fish eater” but water moccasins are also fond of frogs, mammals and other snakes, it eats both cold blooded and warm blooded animals. The water moccasin is aquatic and is at home near or in the water. Its relative, the Copperhead, is most often found away from water and in woodland habitats. Although it may be commonly seen in lakes and ponds, areas where human are, few human deaths are recorded. Baby water moccasins often look a lot different than their parents, because they have a pattern of black cross bands over a tan/gray background. These babies also have a bright yellow tail, used for luring small prey within striking distance; this color is lost as the snakes mature. The young are born live in late summer and early fall. The number per litter averages five snakes, with the snakes measuring sex to eleven inches.
The water moccasin is a very venomous snake, a pit viper, it has a pit in the side of its head, below the eyes and the nostril, and some non-venomous water snakes have a broad head too, but lack the pit. Water moccasins can grow to over five feet long, though most are only 3 + feet. They have big dark bands across their bodies. They usually feed on small mammals, fish, birds, and frogs; Fish provide most of the snake’s venom because of the oils in the fish. Water moccasins are normally found in wet places, swampy areas of rivers and streams, and marshy shores of lakes. The bite of a water moccasin is extremely dangerous and could prove fatal.
The cottonmouth may have their babies when they are as young as three years of age. The babies of a cottonmouth snake are born live. The babies are born from September to August. The parents care for them for a few years while they are still young and unable to care for themselves. Adults hunt for food while the babies stay in their nest waiting for their return. The number of babies that can be born at once are from eight to ten at one birth.
Cottonmouth snakes are good at hiding. The cottonmouth snake’s coloring helps them fit in and hide so they are not seen. Their camouflage helps them hunt for food and to hide from predators. The babies have better camouflage than the grown ups. The reason for this is because the babies are smaller so they are unseen in the under brush of the wetlands.