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The Zoo has one male cottonmouth on exhibit. He was born here on January 28, 2009.
There are also three female cottonmouths off-exhibit. One of them is a twin to the male on exhibit, and the other two arrived in Philadelphia on October 23, 2008 from the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky.
All four snakes are a subspecies called Florida cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti).
Often times this snake will be sitting out by the edge of the water in the morning but tends to hide under the log later in the day.
Reptile and Amphibian House
The cottonmouth is a heavy bodied snake that can be dark brown, have a dark cross-banding pattern with some yellow coloration, or be completely black. They also have a large triangular head with a dark line through the eye and elliptical pupils.
The cottonmouth can be found day or night, but hunts primarily at night during the hottest parts of the year. Almost always found near aquatic habitats, this snake will enter fresh and saltwater environments.
Cottonmouths are oviviparous, meaning that the young develop inside the female in a shell-less egg. The female gives birth to as many as 12 offspring every two to three years.
Normally exceed lengths of 3 feet with males being larger than females on average.
The animal in our collection weighs about 2 lbs.
Cottonmouth snakes are carnivorous. In the wild these snakes will eat almost anything including: fish, amphibians, small reptiles, birds and small mammals. The cottonmouth is very aggressive and attacks at lightning speed. The snake uses its speed to quickly strike its prey, injecting venum. The snake will allow the venum to kill the prey before attempting to consume it. This technique helps the snake avoid being bitten by its prey. At the Zoo the cottonmouth are offered mice appropriate to the size of the snake.
Southeastern United States and west to central Texas.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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