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Cottonmouth in Tennessee 

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cottonmouth in tennessee

Tennessee is home to a variety of intimidating creatures, and the cottonmouth snakes are certainly among them. With their distinct markings and Tri-colored venomous bite, it has truly made them one of the most feared species in this neck of the woods. Cottonmouth in Tennessee can be found near bodies of water or humid marshlands, living amongst a variety of organisms. Unfortunately, they are quite territorial and quite aggressive when threatened. In this article, we will discuss interesting facts about these snakes and the threats they can posses to humans.

cottonmouth in tennesse

Cottonmouth’s Colour And How to Identify Cottonmouth in Tennessee? 

Cottonmouths in Tennessee have some of the most distinct colourings of any snake. In Tennessee, they typically display a deep brown or blackish colour, sometimes with lighter tan or olive green accents along their necks, sides and bellies. They can be confused with the harmless water snake which has similar colouring but lacks the distinct ‘cottonmouth’ pattern of white around their lips.

Cottonmouths also have wide triangular heads, a stout build and catlike pupils making them easy to identify in the wild if you see them. The best way to spot a cottonmouth is to watch out for its behaviour; they often give off a warning before striking by opening their mouths so you should be wary if something looks suspiciously like it is showing its teeth!

Where does Cottonmouth Live in Tennessee?

Cottonmouths enjoy living in the warm, shallow waters that can be found near just about any body of water in the state. In densely populated areas, such as cities around the Great Smoky Mountains, they can even be spotted sitting atop rocks along the banks of lakes and streams. Cottonmouths also thrive in wetland habitats like swamps, marshes, and other wooded areas located throughout Tennessee’s many vast wilderness reserves. 

cottonmouth
Head of a water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus)

Cottonmouth Diet

Cottonmouths, also known as Water Moccasins, are among the most common snakes in Tennessee. These semi-aquatic serpents are voracious predators, and they have a diet to prove it! Small fish, frogs, other reptiles and small mammals all make the menu when it comes to cottonmouths in Tennessee. One unique thing about their diet is that they won’t hesitate to seize larger prey such as turtles or even birds! Cottonmouths are adept hunters and will stalk their prey both in and out of water. 

Cottonmouth Size 

Cottonmouth in Tennessee can range in size up to almost 6 feet long, typically having a black or dark brown coloured triangular shaped head. Although typically reclusive, when threatened these snakes will sometimes coil up and create an ‘S’ shape posture with its mouth wide open revealing their white-coloured inside. This is where their name comes from as well as their defensive tactic from potential predators. 

cottonmouth in water

Cottonmouth Venom

Cottonmouth venom is a type of neurotoxic venom. This venom is a dangerous mix of hemotoxins and neurotoxins that can cause extreme swelling, paralysis, tissue death, and even death if a person is not given the correct treatment quickly. Symptoms may progress rapidly, including severe pain that radiates deep into the muscle tissues along with bruising and discolouration at the bite site. It is important to seek medical attention immediately after any contact with Cottonmouth venom as it can be potentially life-threatening. 

How Dangerous are Cottonmouth in Tennessee?

Cottonmouth in Tennessee has a distinct reputation for being aggressive. While they can deliver a painful and potentially fatal bite, fatalities are rare, their bad reputation often induces fear in people exposed to the species. It is important to understand that cottonmouths will rarely show aggression unless harmed or provoked. In general, they typically use their unique appearance as a warning sign to communicate with other animals and humans alike; they’d much rather flee than attack if possible.

Most attacks on humans occur when someone is accidentally stepping on them or attempting to move them out of the way in some fashion without proper care which can come off as intrusive or aggressive. 

References:

https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/reptiles/snakes/cottonmouth.html
https://www.wbir.com/article/tech/science/environment/hiss-here-are-the-four-venomous-snakes-of-tennessee/51-562305847
https://www.livescience.com/43597-facts-about-water-moccasin-cottonmouth-snakes.htm
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Author Profile
Jeevan Kodiyan
Zoologist | Wildlife Conservation at Animals Research

An animal enthusiast with an interest in zoology, studying the behavior and activities of animals in the wild habitat. I work on research projects related to species conservation and endangered species protection. I also leverage zoology to become an educator, educating others about the importance of protecting our natural environment and the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.

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