This is a native species in the U.S. and ranges from Virginia to Florida, west to Texas, and north into Illinois and Indiana.
This southeastern species is most likely to prey on fish and frogs in its habitat near aquatic sites, as it frequents habitats near ponds, swamps, and marshes. Following mating the female retains the fertilized eggs for 5 months and then gives birth to 5-9 young, but potentially up to 16 babies. The venom of this snake is considered very dangerous to humans. It is a hemolytic venom that destroys red blood cells and skin cells, causing internal bleeding, necrosis at the site of the bite, and reportedly extreme pain. It can be life threatening.
Adults typically may be over 4 feet in length and nearly 6 feet in some older individuals. The body color is light but the body is covered with large irregular shaped patches that extend down the sides. The outside of the bands is dark and the inside lighter in color. The head is large and shovel-shaped with a blunt nose and a dark band through the eye. The inside of the mouth is white, giving it its common name of Cottonmouth, and when threatened it often stands its ground with its mouth held wide open, showing this white interior.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
There are no toxins labeled for killing snakes. There are snake repellents available that rely on creating an objectionable odor to keep snakes away, often sulfur and naphthalene, and these may be used outdoors only and would need to be reapplied if they are effective. Many university websites express skepticism regarding snake repellents. Snake management for long term relief combines elimination of snake food resources, such as rodents, with removal of harborage and exclusion from structures. Rubbish, wood piles, and other unnecessary materials on the ground should be removed or stacked neatly off of the soil. Snake traps also exist for the capture of individual snakes that are a nuisance around a property. The removal of snakes by live capture or trapping also is highly effective if disposal of the snake is considered. Relocating snakes off site will generally be illegal according to state wildlife regulations, and killing captured snakes may not be acceptable to customers. It also would be important to attempt to educate homeowners regarding tolerance and appreciation of most snakes on their property, all of which feed on unwanted animals such as rodents, insects, or slugs.