Scientists have confirmed at least two cases of adult Florida cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti) snakes eating young Burmese pythons.
The ecosystem in which the Burmese python (Python bivittatus) has made its home in the Florida Everglades is fighting back as native species are eating the invasive snakes. Scientists studying the big constrictor in Florida have documented the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), the Gulf Coast indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) and the bobcat (Lynx rufus) as consumers of these snakes. The Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) is also possibly a consumer of the Burmese python.
Now scientists with Zoo Miami have confirmed at least two cases of adult Florida cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti) snakes eating young Burmese pythons. The scientists have radiograph verification of the venomous snake eating a radiotelemetered Burmese python in 2020 and in 2021. The 2020 observation took place in the Picayune Strand State Forest in Florida and the 2021 observation took place in the state’s Big Cypress National Preserve. Both young Burmese pythons were radio tagged for research purposes.
The first cottonmouth was captured via the radio-tracker and sedated and transported to a lab until the transmitter was expelled. It measured 63 cm Snout to vent length, 74 cm total length, and 317 g. The snake, a female, was then released back into the location in which it was captured.
The second cottonmouth snake consumed the Burmese python tail first. The snake was captured and released the same day. It measured between 87 cm SVL and 108 cm total length. No other data was collected.
It has been documented that the venomous snake is known to eat 27 snake species, including other cottonmouth snakes.
Cottonmouth Snake Information
The cottonmouth snake is a pit viper of the family Viperidae. It can be found in southern Georgia to the Florida peninsula in wetland, brackish and offshore islands. It grows to about 30 to 48 inches (76-122 cm) in length, with large specimens attaining about six feet. It features black stripes on its cheeks and light cream and white stripes on the body, which is olive brown dark brown and even black in coloration. It gives birth to live young. There are two known species, the Florida cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti) and the northern cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus). A generalist predator, the cottonmouth feeds on a variety of small mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, small turtles and small alligators. It is also known for eating snakes, with scientists documenting 27 snake species consumed by this venomous snake. It is also known to eat its own kind.