Monday, March 26, 2012

Animal Tips for Writers: Cottonmouths


The cottonmouth, or water moccasin, is one of four kinds of venomous snake your hero can encounter in the United States. They are usually brown with darker bands along their body. They can get up to around seventy inches long, and they tend to have somewhat heavy and muscular bodies. Their name comes from an aggressive display they make by rattling their tail, hissing, and showing their fangs, which also shows the white of their mouth.

Cottonmouths live in the southeastern United States, where they are fairly common. They are the world’s only semi-aquatic viper, so they prefer a habitat near water and are rarely found more than a mile away from water. Their diet largely consists of fish and frogs, but they will eat a variety of other small animals, including cannibalizing their own kind. They are even more venomous than a related venomous snake, the copperhead, but bites are not as frequent as their seemingly aggressive nature would indicate. Unlike some myths say, they can bite underwater.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

12 comments:

  1. Creepy. o.O I hope my hero won't encounter these...

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    1. Since you're the author, that's up to you. ;)

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  2. Cannibalistic snake? o.O Scary! Great post, Jonathan. :D

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    1. Thank you, BushMaid!

      I've heard of other snakes doing it, too.

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  3. They have rattles?

    Juliet says "What is wrong with a cannibalistic snake? There would be less of them that way."

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    1. They don't actually have rattles, they just vibrate their tail like a rattle. Do you think I should clarify that?

      With venomous snakes, it's hard to argue against cannibalism. ;)

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  4. I have actually swam with some of these guys. O.o

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  5. Getting bitten underwater... now there's a story idea for you. o.O

    They're kinda pretty, though, ain't they? :D

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    1. Yes. ;)

      There are equally pretty snakes that aren't venomous, though.

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    2. We have these in our area of Missouri, but I haven't seen one yet, thankfully. Caution is the key, though, because we have black-rat snakes around here, and we see those quite frequently ... better safe than sorry!

      We also have copperheads.

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    3. I've seen a lot of cottonmouths and a few copperheads in the southern US.

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