Harmless Watersnake or Venomous Water Moccasin?
There are many harmless watersnake species that are frequently confused with venomous Water moccasins a. k. a. cottonmouths. In fact, some people believe that there is no difference between the two. However, there are several differences between them.
The most obvious one is size. A cottonmouth is much larger than a watersnake. They typically grow up to four feet long while the average length of a watersnake ranges from 18 inches to three feet. Another important factor is coloration. While both are usually brownish-gray, cottonmouths tend to have darker stripes running down their backs. This helps distinguish them from watersnakes.
Another important distinction is behavior. Cottonmouths are active during the day. They spend much of their time hunting and feeding. On the other hand, watersnakes are mostly inactive during the daytime hours. They hide under rocks and logs and wait for prey to come along.
Finally, another major difference is habitat. Cottonmouths prefer to live in areas where there is plenty of vegetation such as swamps and ponds. Watersnakes, however, like to live in open spaces like grasslands, prairies, and deserts. They don’t mind being around humans either.
So what do you call a snake that looks just like a cottonmouth but isn’t dangerous? You might say it’s a harmless watersnake. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to handle. If someone gets bitten by a harmless watersnake, it won’t cause serious harm. However, if someone gets bitten by a cottonmouth, it could potentially lead to death.
Best ways to tell watersnakes and Water Moccasins apart:
Venomous water snakes have very thick, heavy bodies, and short, thick, stubby tails. They resemble Water Moccasins, but are actually completely different animals. Venomous water snakes are found throughout North America. Their venom causes severe pain and swelling around the bite area, while Water Moccasin bites usually cause little or no symptoms.
Venomous water snake species include: Eastern Coral Snake (Micruroides euryxanthus), Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), Cottonmouth (Agkistroodon piscivorus), Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis), Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (crotalus oreganus), Pit Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii), and Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta).
Water moccasins are small snakes that range from 3 to 5 inches long. They are often confused with the similar-looking cottonmouth because both look like large rats. Unlike the venomous water snake, the cottonmouth uses its poison primarily for defense, not attack. Its bite is painful, but does not produce serious damage.
The body shape of a water moccasin is quite different from that of a venomous water snake. Water moccasins have bodies shaped more like a rat than a snake. Their heads are relatively large compared to their bodies, and their tails are thin and almost invisible.
The 4 key Differences Between Cottonmouths and Water Snakes
1. Water Snakes are Thin with no Defined Neck
Water snakes are reptiles that live in rivers, lakes, swamps and even oceans. Unlike many other snakes, water snakes don’t slither; they swim slowly along the bottom of the river or lake. These creatures are often mistaken for lizards because they look similar. But there are some key differences.
The most obvious difference is that water snakes lack scales. Instead, they have skin covered with tiny bumps called papillae. This gives them a light texture that helps them blend into the murky waters where they spend most of their lives.
Another thing that sets them apart from lizards is their size. A typical adult length is about 4 feet (1.25 meters), although it varies depending on the species. Some grow larger than 10 feet (3 m).
Unlike most snakes, water snakes do not shed their skins like lizards do. When they die, they simply rot away.
2. Cottonmouths have Oval Pupils
Cottonmouths are venomous pit vipers found in the southeastern United States. They are often mistaken for rattlesnakes because of their similar appearance. However, while rattlesnakes typically have diamond-shaped pupils, cottonmouths have oval pupil shapes. This difference can help distinguish one snake species from another.
Water snakes are native to North America, but unlike most constrictors, they do not eat prey whole; rather, they swallow it in pieces. Their diet consists mainly of fish, amphibians, crustaceans, insects, small mammals, birds, lizards, and occasionally even other snakes. Unlike many other snakes, however, water snakes have no fangs. Instead, their teeth are used primarily to crush food, although some species use them to inject venom into prey.
3. Water Snakes do not Have Pits
Cottonmouth snakes are one of the most venomous species of snake in North America. They live in arid areas throughout the southeastern United States, where they hunt rodents and small reptiles. Their name derives from the fact that their heads resemble those of cottonmouth water moccasins, another type of pit viper.
The average size of a cottonmouth is about 4 feet long, although they can grow up to 9 feet long. They typically weigh anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds. The coloration varies depending on the subspecies, but they usually have dark bands running along the length of their bodies. There are four main varieties of cottonmouths—the black, brown, yellow, and red. Each variety has different characteristics and behaviors.
The black variety is known for having large, triangular pupils and being very aggressive toward humans. This makes it difficult to tell whether a snake is black without seeing its face. The brown variety tends to be smaller and slower moving. Yellow cottonmouths tend to be larger than the others and are generally found in swamps. Red cottonmouths are the smallest variety and are rarely seen because they spend much of their lives underground.
Water snakes are a group of nonvenomous snakes native to freshwater habitats across the world. Some species are even considered invasive, such as the Burmese python. All members of this family look similar, except for the boa constrictors, which belong to a separate family. A few species have been introduced into the wild, including the Nile cobra, green tree python, and king cobra.
All water snakes have smooth skin and lack scales. They have no external ear openings, unlike some other types of snakes. Instead, they use a system called lateral sinus pressure receptors to pick up sounds. Like other snakes, they have eyelids that protect their eyes from drying out. Unlike many other snakes, however, they don’t have teeth. Instead, they have a pair of tiny fangs located near their mouths.
Their diet consists primarily of fish, frogs, crayfish, shrimp, crabs, and worms. Because they feed mostly on invertebrates, they don’t require a lot of food. In captivity, they eat insects, fruit flies, and mealworms.
Snakes like the ones mentioned above are among the deadliest animals in the world. But they aren’t always deadly. For instance, the cottonmouth is actually quite docile, making it easy to handle. If handled correctly, there is little risk of harm.
4. Cottonmouths Live Longer
Cottonmouths are venomous pit vipers found in North America. They’re known for having large heads and thick bodies. Most people think of them as harmless because they’re often mistaken for rattlesnakes. However, cottonmouths are actually one of the most dangerous snakes in the world.
The average life expectancy of a captive cottonmouth snake is around 10 years. But some specimens have been documented living to be older than 20 years old. In the wild, however, the average lifespan of a cottonmouth is likely less than five years.