Although cottonmouths or water moccasins are at the top of the food chain, preying on other snakes, small animals, insects and large mammals on occasion, they are not immune to becoming the prey of other animals, including other species of snakes, turtles, alligators, mammals and birds. The greatest threat to the water moccasin, however, is man.
About The Water Moccasin
The cottonmouth or water moccasin is a venomous snake belonging to the pit viper family. Cottonmouths are found primarily in the eastern half of the United States, and as many as five subspecies have been reported. The nickname “water moccasin” stems from the fact that these snakes are semi-aquatic and known to sneak up silently on their prey.
Mammals That Prey On Water Moccasins
Dogs, cats, raccoons, wild pigs and other mammals occasionally prey on the water moccasin, but the most common mammalian predator of a water moccasin is the opossum. Opossums are known for a rodent-like appearance and a fierce nature when it comes to killing their prey. Their immunity to the venom of the cottonmouth, quick speed and the fact that they have more teeth then any other North American mammal all contribute to their status as predators of water moccasins.
Hawks and owls occasionally prey on water moccasins, as do egrets. The sharp talon and beaks of these birds increase their chances of quickly killing a snake before it has the chance to strike.
Reptiles And Other Snakes
Reptiles including alligators and snapping turtles frequently prey on the water moccasin. Just as cottonmouths occasionally prey on other species of snakes, some species of snakes, including king snakes and black snakes, occasionally prey on the water moccasin. Cottonmouths are also immune to their own venom and that of other cottonmouths and will prey on each other if other food sources are not readily available.
The greatest threat and most significant predator of the water moccasin is human. Because they are venomous and are commonly found in swampy marshland in close proximity to towns and cities, people often try to kill these snakes when they encounter them in order to prevent being bitten and to keep them away from their properties and homes. Because water moccasins, like other cold-blooded animals, are naturally drawn to heat sources, they often bask on roads and highways, and many are inadvertently killed by motorists as well.