The cottonmouth snake, Agkistrodon piscivorus, has dark bands on dark or olive skin but is most known by the white, cotton-like inside of its mouth. Young cottonmouths are lighter and look similar to copperheads.
Typical adult length: 3 feet
Habitat: Prefers freshwater but can also be found on land. This snake can be found in the eastern part of the state.
Defenses used: camouflaging, fleeing, opening the mouth widely, flattening the body to appear bigger, vibrating the tail, releasing musk.
Bite severity: The bite severity of the cottonmouth is similar to the copperhead. Bites from either of these snakes can be severe but generally not as severe as other venomous NC snakes. Symptoms typically include significant pain and swelling to the bite area. Clotting disorders of the blood are possible with cottonmouths but are exceedingly rare compared to rattlesnake envenomations.
All suspected or confirmed cottonmouth bites should be taken seriously. Healthcare evaluation or a call to NC Poison Control is advised for all bites suspected to be from cottonmouths.
Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for snakebite treatment advice or for questions about the venomous snakes in our area.