Think You Know Snakes?
More Great Content:
Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

Baby Cottonmouth Season: When Does It Start?

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: January 22, 2023
© Kristian Bell/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:
Think You Know Snakes?
Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

Key Points:

  • Cottonmouths (also called water moccasins) get their name from the whitish interiors of their mouths which can be seen when they open wide.
  • The earliest time that baby cottonmouth season can begin is in the later parts of August through October.
  • Newborn cottonmouths are about 7 to 10 inches long with a tan color and reddish-yellow tail tips.

Cottonmouths are semi-aquatic pit vipers known for their extremely toxic venom. They measure from 26 to 35 inches and have triangular heads accompanied by elliptical pupils. Cottonmouths get their name from the whitish interiors of their mouths which can be seen when they open wide. They are also called water moccasins because they prefer to stay close to water.

There’s quite a lot to the cottonmouth species, so it’s no wonder that many studies have been launched into adult specimens. This article takes a look at some of the most intriguing facts about cottonmouths as cute, but dangerous babies. You’ll also get to find out when baby cottonmouth season starts.

Northern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)

A northern cottonmouth sunning on a sandy path near the saltwater marsh on the Tolomato River.

©Linda Burek/Shutterstock.com

45,603 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

Northern cottonmouths are the largest cottonmouth species, with an average of 10 to 20 ounces in weight. They measure approximately 26 to 35 inches. However, it isn’t at all impossible to spot specimens that are slightly longer than 71 inches. Generally, they are found in the eastern parts of the US but have been spotted in southern regions such as Texas.

They have broad heads and thin necks and about 23–27 rows of dorsal scales in their mid-regions. Their colors often range from brown to black, while their bellies are white or tan and have dark spots that become darker towards their tails. Northern cottonmouths have brown heads and may have dark spots atop them, with the undersides of their heads having cream, tan or white colors.

Florida Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon conanti)

Endemic to the United States, Florida cottonmouths are known for their hemolytic venom.

©iStock.com/Saddako

Florida cottonmouths are endemic to the USA and can be found in the Florida peninsula and southern Georgia. They aren’t fully dependent on water but do not like to live too far away from it either. Florida cottonmouth snakes have been discovered up to a mile away from water. They aren’t too picky either and have been found in offshore islands and brackish waters.

Florida cottonmouths are known for their hemolytic venom with a 17% mortality rate. The species is rather thick-bodied and averages 30 to 48 inches (2.5 feet to 4 feet) in length. However, some specimens measuring 6 feet have been discovered. Florida cottonmouths have colors ranging from dark to light brown to black. Their heads have clear black cheek stripes placed on each side with white or cream stripes at the tops and bottoms. These species can be identified by their 10 to 17 dark bands, which could fade away with age.

When Does Baby Cottonmouth Season Start?

Moccasin Snake
The earliest time that baby cottonmouth season can begin is in the later parts of August through October.

©Nathan A Shepard/Shutterstock.com

The actual start of baby cottonmouth season depends on when the female takes in (between April to May) and how long she stays pregnant. The earliest time that baby cottonmouth season can begin is in the later parts of August through October.

Maturity

Both subspecies are known to reach maturity when they are about 2 to 3 years old. More specifically, males reach maturity at an average of 2 years, while females reach maturity at an average of 3 years. In northern cottonmouths, snakes aren’t considered mature if they are less than 25.6 feet in males and 31.5 feet in females.

How long do cottonmouths live?

Cottonmouth snakes, also known as water moccasins, typically have a lifespan of around 10-12 years in the wild. They are semi-aquatic snakes that are native to the southeastern United States, and they can be found in swamps, marshes, and other wetland habitats.

They can grow up to 3-4 feet (90-122 cm) in length and have thick, stocky bodies. In captivity, with proper care, they can live a little longer, around 12-15 years.

It’s important to note that the lifespan of any animal is affected by factors such as diet, habitat, and genetics, so individual snakes may live shorter or longer than the average lifespan.

Courtship

Before mating can occur, males usually battle for the right to mate with females. They begin by waving their tails around to attract females from other males. Usually, two or more males can compete for a single female. They do this through the courtship battle. In these battles, male snakes raise their bodies and thrash around violently. However, they do not bite each other. They sway back and forth while stretching themselves before slamming their opponents down to the ground or water, depending on where they battle. It is not uncommon to see snakes intertwined as they wrestle for dominance.

They do not aim to kill themselves but to intimidate competitors into giving up rights to females in the area. Such battles can go on for hours. Usually, snakes give up after they run out of strength. This way, only the strongest genes are reproduced. The successful snake wins the right to court female snakes present in the area.

Coitus

Not much is known about the actual process of cottonmouth’s coitus. However, willing females allow males into their cloaca. The courtship dance can begin once a male snake has successfully won the right to mate with a willing female. In most snakes, large amounts of sperm are produced in the spring. However, researchers suspect that male cottonmouths are fertile all year long. The mating periods usually take place between April to May.

Gestation

Female cottonmouth snakes are known to have a five-month gestation period. The actual number of days depends on the health and physical condition of the female snake.

Birth

Cottonmouths, like all pit vipers, are ovoviviparous. This means that the eggs grow and develop inside the mother until they are ready to be born alive. Once they are born, they are considered capable of fending for themselves. Female cottonmouths give birth to 1 to 20 young ones per litter.

Newborn

Newborn cottonmouths are about 7 to 10 inches long with a tan color. They also have reddish-yellow tail tips. Research suggests that they use them to lure unsuspecting prey. At birth, these snakes begin to care for themselves, so the mothers stick around for only a few minutes before going back to their normal lives post-pregnancy. As they grow, juveniles develop reddish-brown crossbands with dark spots.

Care For Young

Cottonmouths, like most snakes, do not care for their young. Once the snakes are born, it will take only a little while for all the newborns and the mother to go their separate ways.

What Should I Do With A Baby Cottonmouth?

If you spot a baby cottonmouth in the wild, leave it on its own. They are capable of taking care of themselves- even as babies. However, if you spot one on the human territory or if you spot an injured snake, contact your local pest control services. They will be more equipped to remove and care for the snake while also ensuring that there are no others in the area.

Remember that baby cottonmouth snakes are just as venomous as adults, and that as babies, they may not know exactly how to regulate their venom. Consequently, it’s a good idea to respect their space and boundaries.

Next Up…

Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda

Every day A-Z Animals sends out some of the most incredible facts in the world from our free newsletter. Want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a "snake island" where you're never more than 3 feet from danger, or a "monster" snake 5X larger than an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you'll start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.



The Featured Image

Moccasin Snake
Wild juvenile cottonmouth snake (Agkistrodon piscivorus) in Florida
© Kristian Bell/Shutterstock.com

Share this post on:

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.