Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma

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Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma
Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Agkistrodon
Species: A. piscivorus
Subspecies: A. p. leucostoma
Trinomial name
Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma
(Troost, 1836)
  • Acontias leucostoma - Troost, 1836
  • [Toxicophis leucostoma] - Troost, 1836
  • Toxicophis leucostomus - Holbrook, 1842
  • Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma - Gloyd & Conant, 1943
  • Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostomus - H.M. Smith & Taylor, 1945[1]

Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma (common names: western cottonmouth,[2] water moccasin, cottonmouth,[3] more) is a venomous pit viper subspecies[4] found in the south central United States. It is the smallest of the three subspecies and tends to be darker in color.


A. p. leucostoma, juvenile.

This is the smallest of the three subspecies, both in maximum length and especially in average length. The two maximum lengths ever reported were both 62 inches (157.5 cm): the first by Wright and Wright (1957) and the second by David L. Edwards for a specimen killed north of Yazoo City in Mississippi almost 30 years later. Regarding the average length, a study by Clarke (1949) of 100 specimens showed that 86 were less than 42 inches (106.7 cm) long and 64 were less than 36 inches (91.4 cm). In another study by Barbour (1956) of 167 specimens from western Kentucky, the largest was only 39 inches (99.3 cm) and the average size was 27.5 inches (70 cm).[5]

Coloration is similar to the two eastern subspecies, except that most specimens tend to become darker at a younger age. Also, the light line that borders the dark cheek strip—clearly defined in A. p. conanti and less so in A. p. piscivorus—is usually not present in this subspecies. A dorsal color pattern consists of 10 to 15 dark crossbands can be seen in small specimens, as well as in some larger ones.[5]

Common names[edit]

Western cottonmouth, water moccasin, cottonmouth, (black) moccasin, blunt-tail moccasin, (northern) cottenmouth moccasin, stump-tail (water) moccasin, viper, western cottonmouth moccasin,[3] cotton-mouthed snake, Congo snake, trap-jaw, gapper.[5]

Geographic range[edit]

Found in the United States, from southern Alabama along coast of the Gulf of Mexico, including many offshore islands, to southeastern and central Texas and north to Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and southeastern Nebraska.[5] The type locality given is "western district of Tennessee." Schmidt (1953) proposed that this be amended to "10 miles northeast of Bolivar, Hardeman County, Tennessee."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ Conant R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Second Edition. First published in 1958. Houghton Mifflin Company Boston. 429 pp. 48 plates. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hc), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (pb).
  3. ^ a b Wright AH, Wright AA. 1957. Handbook of Snakes. Comstock Publishing Associates. (7th printing, 1985). 1105 pp. ISBN 0-8014-0463-0.
  4. ^ "Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 31 May 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d Gloyd HK, Conant R. 1990. Snakes of the Agkistrodon Complex: A Monographic Review. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. 614 pp. 52 plates. LCCN 89-50342. ISBN 0-916984-20-6.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barbour RW. 1956. A study of the cottonmouth, Ancistrodon piscivorus leucostoma Troost, in Kentucky. Trans. Kentucky Acad. Sci., 17: 33-41.
  • Clarke RF. 1949. Snakes of the hill parishes of Louisiana. Jour. Tennessee Acad. Sci., 24: 244-261.
  • Gloyd HK, Conant R. 1943. A synopsis of the American forms of Agkistrodon (copperheads and moccasins). Bull. Chicago Acad. Sci, 7: 147-170.
  • Holbrook JE. 1842. North American herpetology: or a description of the reptiles inhabiting the United States. Volume 3. hiladelphia, Pennsylvania, J. Dobson; London, England, R. Baldwin: 3: i-ii, 3-128 (Notes: this data is from the 1976 reprint issued by the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.
  • Schmidt KP. 1953. A check list of North American amphibians and reptiles. Sixth edition. Chicago, Illinois, Amer. Soc. Icthyol. Herpetol.: i-viii, 1-280.
  • Smith HM, Taylor EH. 1945. An annotated checklist and key to the snakes of Mexico. Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus., 187: 1-239.
  • Troost G. 1836. On a new genus of serpents, and two new species of the genus Heterodon, inhabiting Tennessee. Ann. Lyc. Nat. Hist., New York, 3: 174-190.

External links[edit]