Western cottonmouth

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The western cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma)[2][3][4] was once classified as a subspecies of the cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus). However, DNA based studies published in 2008 and 2015, revealed no significant genetic difference between the eastern cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) and the western cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma) and synonymized the two subspecies (with the oldest published name, A. p. piscivorus, having priority). The resulting taxonomy does not recognizes the western cottonmouth (A. p. leucostoma) as a valid taxon.[5][6] Several subsequent reviews and species accounts have followed and supported the revised taxonomy.[7][8]: 437 p. [9] Information on this snake can be found in the Agkistrodon piscivorus article.

Western cottonmouth
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Agkistrodon
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
  • Agkistrodon piscivorus – F. T. Burbrink & T. J. Guiher. 2014

Description edit

A. p. leucostoma, juvenile

Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma is a stout snake with a thick, muscular body. It is the smallest of the three subspecies of A. piscivorus. The average length of mature specimens is 27.5 inches (69.9 cm), while the maximum reported length is 62 inches (157.5 cm).[10]

Adult specimens are usually dark gray or brown with little or no markings, although a dorsal color pattern consisting of 10 to 15 dark crossbands can be seen in some specimens.[10] Like other members of the species, its color darkens with age, and very old specimens may appear entirely black. Unlike the other two subspecies (A. p. conanti and A. p. piscivorus), the light line that borders the dark cheek strip is usually not present in this subspecies. The dorsal scales are keeled, in rows of 25 near the midbody, and the anal scale is undivided.[11] Its broad, flat head is distinctly wider than its neck, and it has an elliptical (cat-like) pupil. By day the pupil appears as a narrow slit; at night the pupil is wide and may even look round.[12]

Behavior edit

The animal opens its mouth widely when startled, exposing its whitish-colored oral mucosa; this is the reason it is commonly referred to as the "cottonmouth".

Common names edit

Western cottonmouth, water moccasin, cottonmouth, (black) moccasin, blunt-tail moccasin, (northern) cottonmouth moccasin, stump-tail (water) moccasin, viper, western cottonmouth moccasin,[3] cotton-mouthed snake, Congo snake, trap-jaw, gapper.[10]

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, and western Kentucky.[10] 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]

References 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. ^ Guiher TJ, Burbrink FT (2008). Demographic and phylogeographic histories of two venomous North American snakes of the genus Agkistrodon. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 48: 543–553.
  6. ^ Burbrink, Frank T. and Timothy J. Guiher. 2014. Considering gene flow when using coalescent methods to delimit lineages of North American pitvipers of the genus Agkistrodon. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 173: 505–526.
  7. ^ Crother, B. I. ( editor). 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, 8th. edition. SSAR Herpetological Circular 43, 1–102 pp. (page 59) ISBN 978-1-946681-00-3
  8. ^ Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. 2016. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co. New York. 494 pp. ISBN 978-0-544-12997-9
  9. ^ Uetz P, Freed P, Aguilar R, Hošek J (editors) (2021). The Reptile Database, Agkistrodon piscivorus (accessed 6 August 2021)
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Travis LaDuc; David Cannatella (2019). "Cottonmouth". Herps of Texas. Austin, Texas. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  12. ^ "Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma)". Wildlife Fact Sheets. Austin, Texas: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-04.

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. Philadelphia, 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