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Poisonous animals
Cnidarians (Jellyfish, Corals and Anemones)
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Hymenopterans (Bees, Wasps and Ants)
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North America
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Agkistrodon spp., Moccasins

Clinical entries

See also genus Gloydius and Hypnale


  • 1. Agkistrodon bilineatus
  • 2. Agkistrodon conanti
  • 3. Agkistrodon contortrix
  • 4. Agkistrodon howardgloydi
  • 5. Agkistrodon laticinctus
  • 6. Agkistrodon piscivorus
  • 7. Agkistrodon russeolus
  • 8. Agkistrodon taylori


Previously considered a subspecies of A. bilineatus, A. bilineatus taylori was raised to full species status by Parkinson et al. (2000).

The two former subspecies A. bilineatus howardgloydi and A. bilineatus russeolus  are raised into species status (Porras et al. 2013).

The two former subspecies A. piscivorus conanti and A. contortrix laticinctus are raised into full species status (Bubrink & Guiher 2014).


Serpentes; Viperidae; Crotalinae

Common names

Moccasins, Dreiecksköpfe

  • 1. Tropical moccasin, Cantil, Mexikanische Mokassinschlange
  • 2. Florida cottonmouth
  • 3. American copperhead, Kupferkopf
  • 4. Gloyd's moccasin, Gloyds Mokcasinschlange
  • 5. Broad-banded copperhead
  • 6. Northern cottonmouth, Water moccasin, Wassermokassinschlange
  • 7. Cantil, Mexican moccasin, Mexikanische Mokkasinschlange
  • 8. Mexican moccasin, Taylor's cantil



  Fig. 4.70 Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen.



USA, Mexico and Central America. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.

  Map 52 Agkistrodon spp.


Sturdy to slender body. Head clearly distinct from the body, triangular and flat. Pointed snout. A. piscivorus is the largest species with a length of up to 1.8 m.

Markings generally consist of dark cross bands on a lighter, grey to brown background. Uniformly black individuals are found in the A. piscivorus species.

Habitats: A. bilineatus in dry forests and savannas, A. contortrix primarily in deciduous forests. A. piscivorus is a semi-aquatic species found in bodies of water or swamps.

Active during the day in warm weather, and nocturnal in cooler weather. Species that live in northern and cold regions hibernate during the winter months.

With the exception of A. piscivorus, moccasins try to flee when in danger. If unsuccessful, they flatten their bodies and rapidly vibrate the tip of their tails as warning behaviour. A. piscivorus reacts very aggressively when threatened and also opens its mouth wide, so that the white interior of the mouth becomes visible.


Fatalities very rare, but morbidity high. The most dangerous species is A. piscivorus, which is a fairly frequent cause of bites in the lower Mississippi valley and along the Gulf Coast (USA) (Minton et al. 1965). A. contortrix is responsible for the majority of venomous snakebites in the USA, but most result in only local symptoms.

Literature (biological)

Bolanos 1984, Burbrink and Guhier 2014, Campbell and Lamar 1989, 2004, Gloyd and Conant 1989, Minton and Rutherford-Minton 1969, Parkinson et al. 2000, Porras et al. 2013, Russell 1983, Toriba 1990b, Toriba and Sawai 1990, Zhao 1990