[Note: this photograph is erroneously identified. See corrected article: Brown Water Snake.]
The Eastern Cottonmouth (Akistrodon piscivorus) is also known as the Water Moccasin. Cottonmouths have several distinguishing features: vertical pupils (catlike), facial pit between the nostril and the eyes, eyes not visible when head is viewed from above (in contrast with the eyes of water snakes, which are visible from above), body with single anal plate.
The Cottonmouth is not native to our area and isn't found here. Steve Cardin, an expert local herpetologist, and Dr. Edward Fisher, biologist at Averett University, agree that the only cottonmouths found locally could have been brought in by collectors and are not likely to survive in local habitats. Our Virginia map shows the general distribution of the cottonmouth (in green, the far southeastern counties).
My Cottonmouth picture was taken in the Green Swamp, Brunswick County, North Carolina.
Copyright © 2001–2002 William T. Hathaway.