Friday, April 28, 2017

Snake Identification Challenge of the Week: Cottonmouth Breeding Balls?

It's that time of year! Some folks are seeing some really cool snake activity out there, which always begs the question: are these Cottonmouth breeding balls?


I read your blog article about cottonmouths not being north of southern Virginia.  I was walking around Lake Elkhorn (Columbia, MD) today and spotted these creatures sunning themselves on rocks at water’s edge (very close to the park walkway).  I could have sworn these to be cottonmouths but also was skeptical they could be this far north.  From these photographs, can you help me understand what kind of snake these are?  I highly doubt they are a northern water snake.

Craig P.


I saw these 3 enjoying the sun and each others company this afternoon while mowing our yard. Can you tell if they are venomous? I’m concerned they are cottonmouths.

Brian K.

What Are These Snakes?

Snake Identification Post Ground Rules

-Guesses are welcome and encouraged. Don't worry if you're not an expert, wrong guesses allow us to talk about how to distinguish between the various species and that's why I run these posts.

-If you can't explain why you think a snake is a particular species, go ahead and just say what you think it is. But otherwise please do let us all know how you identified the animal. If you're wrong, we can explain why. If you're right, this helps everyone learn how to identify snakes, which is the point of these posts.

-This is not a pop quiz, any kind of research is encouraged and I hope you will engage with other commenters to try to figure these snakes out. I will eventually chime in with my thoughts.

-Assume I know what kind of snake is in the picture. I run these posts because they are outreach opportunities. Please don't send me private e-mails with your guesses, include them below.

-Remember, the person that sent me the picture is probably reading your comments. Although it is frustrating to know that many of these snakes have been killed, these people do want to learn more about them. More snake knowledge will lead to fewer snakes being killed. Don't hate, educate.

Enjoy what you read and learn here? 

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