Agkistrodon conanti, the Florida cottonmouth;
Lowndes county, Georgia (22 April 2012).
A brilliant, juvenile Florida cottonmouth in extreme South Georgia. As kids, cottonmouths start out brightly patterned, but as they age they typically lose most of that patterning and turn quite dark — though the Florida cottonmouth’s stripe behind the eye usually remains (albeit much, much darker than what you see here). I came across many people in south Georgia who would bet their first born’s soul on these being copperheads, but that venomous species doesn’t quite range to this part of extreme South Georgia. They weren’t too far off, though. Copperheads are a different species of the same genus (Agkistrodon contortrix). Cottonmouths and copperheads are related species.