Such a person as a muzzle snake is considered the most common in its viper family. The very name of the reptile sounds quite menacing, and family ties with the viper hint at danger and poisonousness. So let's try to figure out how dangerous and toxic it is, what kind of disposition, appearance and habits it has.
Origin of the species and description
The genus muzzle includes reptiles of the subfamily of the pit-headed, belonging to the viper family. From the name of the snake family, it is easy to guess that the muzzle is poisonous. Creeping is named so because very large shields are located in the area of u200bu200bits head. The muzzle genus includes 13 varieties of snakes, we will describe some of them.
It is worth noting that in the vastness of our country you can find three varieties of muzzle:
The stony muzzle takes a fancy to screes and rocky shores of various reservoirs. The length of his body reaches 80 cm. The massive head stands out well from the entire body. The color of the dorsal part varies from light reddish brown to dark. The reptile is lined across with black or gray stripes. There is a spotted pattern on the sides, and the ventral part is either almost black or light gray with specks.
Video: Cottonmouth snake
The Ussuri (seaside) muzzle is not too large in size, its length does not exceed 65 cm. The head is also large, has a pattern and a dark stripe goes behind the eyes. The general background of the snake is brownish or dark brown. Rounded spots with a light center and prominent edging are noticeable on the sides. The ventral region is gray with whitish dots in the upper part.
The Eastern cottonmouth can reach a maximum length of 90 cm, but usually rarely exceeds 80 cm. A scaly crest is prominent on the head, and the skin of the body is ribbed. The ridge has a beige-gray or grayish-brown color with large ocher-colored rings or diamond-shaped spots. The core of the patterns is of a light shade, and the edging is almost black. Dark rounded spots are visible on the sides.
Eastern muzzle has chosen the United States. Its dimensions are quite weighty, the length reaches one and a half meters. The background of his body is burgundy or completely brown. The entire ridge is lined with dark stripes. The head is not large and is outlined by two white lateral lines. The tail of a bright yellow color attracts attention, luring prey.
Malay muzzle is small, but very poisonous and dangerous, its length does not go beyond a meter limit. The color of the reptile is pinkish or light brown, on the ridge there is a zigzag ornament. This snake is perfectly camouflaged in the foliage and lies without a single movement until the very moment of the attack.
Pallas muzzle (common) is the most common type of muzzle. The reptile is named after the German scientist, traveler, naturalist Peter Simon Pallas, who was in the service of our state. He was the first to give a description of this snake species. The reptile has medium dimensions, its length is approximately 70 cm. Next, we will analyze the characteristic features of the external snake appearance, namely, using the common muzzle as an example.
Appearance and features
All the characteristic features of the genus and features are present in the appearance of the common muzzle. The dimensions of the reptile have already been indicated, but the length of its tail is about eleven centimeters. The head of the snake is quite large, wide, well distinguished from the entire body with the help of a cervical interception. The shape of the head is slightly flattened, which is clearly visible when viewed from above.
The upper region of the head is equipped with large shields that close and form a shield. In the area from the eyes to the nostrils, there are heat-sensitive pits that capture heat radiation and any vibrations. The pupils of the muzzle, as is typical of all poisonous reptiles, are vertical.
The general tone of the snake's body is brown or grayish-brown. On the ridge, chocolate-colored spots are visible, located across. They can be from 29 to 50 pieces. On the sides there is a longitudinal row of small spots of dark color. The head of the snake is decorated with a contrasting spotted pattern, and a dark-colored postorbital stripe runs on both sides.
The color of the abdominal part can vary from light grayish to dark brown. Against the general background of the belly, both light and black specks are visible. There are 23 rows of scales in the girth of the middle part of the body of the snake. The number of scutes located on the belly can be from 155 to 187, undertail – from 33 to 50 pairs. or almost black in color.
Now you know whether or not the cottonmouth snake is poisonous or not. Let's see where she lives and what she eats.
Where does the cottonmouth snake live?
If we talk about Pallas muzzle, then its habitat is very extensive, it is the most common among all types of muzzle. You can meet a reptile in the vastness of Mongolia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the northern part of Iran, China and Korea. In Russia, the serpentine territory of settlement stretched from the northeastern part of the Caspian coast and the Volga mouth in the west to the Zeya River basin in the east. The muzzle is found both in Western Siberia and the Far East.
In the countries of the former USSR lives:
- in Kazakhstan;
- in the north of Turkmenistan;
- in Kyrgyzstan;
The common muzzle easily adapts to different climatic zones and landscapes, living in completely different areas. The reptile has chosen the steppe expanses, forests, wetlands, desert and semi-desert areas, various coasts of river systems, grassy meadows. Even the mountains have not bypassed the muzzle with their attention and are found at altitudes up to three kilometers.
Of course, different types of muzzle have been registered in various places, regions, countries, continents. The Malay variety of reptile has chosen Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Java, Laos, Sumatra. He lives in bamboo thickets and tropical, humid, forested areas, cultivated rice plantations. The water muzzle has a permanent residence in the US state of Florida, where humidity and hot climate favor it.
The copper-headed muzzle occupied the North American continent, or rather, its eastern part. The Ussuri species has spread throughout the Far East. Snake shelters are located in rodent burrows, rocky crevices, dense shrubbery. In different habitats, muzzles are active at different times of the year and day. It should be noted that the density of reptile settlement in different territories is usually low, only in the spring and at the very beginning of the summer season can large accumulations of snakes be found.
What does the cottonmouth snake eat? ?
Snake menu of Cottonmouth, in mostly filled with:
- all kinds of rodents;
- medium-sized birds that make ground nests;
- bird eggs;
Small serpents often eat various insects. Cottonmouths, living in the coastal zone of reservoirs, snack on frogs and small fish. It is not difficult to guess that the diet of the water muzzle for the most part is fish. Cottonmouths living in the sand dunes of Mongolia prefer to hunt lizards. Sometimes entire populations of these snakes live in places of vole colonies (Kazakhstan and Mongolian steppes). It also happens that muzzles eat not only bird eggs, but also snake eggs of small reptiles.
Usually, each reptile has its own hunting allotment, beyond which it rarely goes. The diameter of such a fishing area varies from 100 to 160 meters. Most often, snakes come out to hunt at dusk. The hunting process itself consists of tracking down the prey, and then a lightning-fast throw attack on it, which ends with a toxic bite. The poison is almost instantaneous, and smitten prey begins to be consumed by swallowing the head part.
An interesting fact: Heat-sensitive pits help the muzzle to feel prey even in pitch darkness, because they catch the slightest fluctuations in the surrounding temperature.
Character and image features life
The wintering of the common cottonmouth ends in the period from March to May, it depends on the areas of snake residence. In spring, most often he is active during the day, he likes to soak up the rays of the warming sun. In the summer heat, the mode of his life changes to night, and in the heat he prefers to be in holes and shady bushes. The hunting season begins at dusk.
Interesting fact: Pallas cottonmouth is an excellent swimmer and loves to swim in a cool pond in the summer heat.
Although the common cottonmouth is dangerous, it has poisonous fangs that fold back, can produce a toxic bite, aggression he will not be the first to show, but attacks only for the purpose of self-defense, when there is nowhere to go. Often this happens when people, without noticing the reptile, step on it. The cottonmouth shows readiness for an attack by vibration of the tail tip.
The poisonous muzzle toxin, like all vipers, affects primarily the circulatory system, then the nervous system, leading to paralysis of the respiratory function. A muzzle bite brings severe pain to a person, leading to profuse hemorrhages at the puncture site, but most often everything goes away after a week, and the bitten one recovers. Young children experience much more severe complications after being bitten by a snake. And for domestic animals (horses, dogs, goats), a snake bite most often ends in death.
Among the muzzles, as in the entire viper family, quick irritability and swift attacking attacks flourish. The snakes coil into an “s” shape and lunge forward with a toxic bite, then return to their original position. Deadly attacks can be very long, so it is worth staying away from an angry reptile. Cotton muzzle was nicknamed lazy, because. often he does not leave the scene of the attack, but remains lying in the same place where he committed the attack.
An interesting fact: Usually poisonous reptiles give a person warning signals of an attack by puffing up their hoods, crackling with a rattle, emitting a hiss, but an exception to this list is the Malay muzzle, which is immobilized until the very moment of attack, therefore it is very insidious and dangerous.
Social structure and reproduction
Ordinary muzzles become sexually mature at the age of two or three. These snakes are ovoviviparous, i.e. the female immediately gives birth to small kites, bypassing the process of laying eggs. The wedding season for cottonmouths begins two weeks after waking up from hibernation, this period in different regions falls on April-May and lasts throughout the entire period of seasonal snake activity. Sometimes fights take place between male snakes for the possession of a female. In the water muzzle, they happen right in the water.
In the period from July to early October, the female gives birth to three to fourteen kites. They have a length of 16 to 19 cm and a weight of about 6 grams. The most favorable time for the birth of babies is the end of July and the whole of August. When they are born, serpents are dressed in transparent shells, which are immediately torn apart, freeing themselves from their fetters. The coloring of small snakes absolutely repeats the color scheme and pattern of their parents. At first, the babies eat all kinds of insects (locusts, spiders, grasshoppers, ants), gradually moving on to larger snacks by birds and rodents.
The Malayan muzzle is an oviparous reptile with about 16 eggs in its carefully guarded clutch, from which kites begin to hatch after thirty-two days. The snakes that were born immediately have poisonousness and the ability to bite. As for the life span of reptiles, common muzzle snakes can live in natural conditions from 10 to 15 years.
Natural enemies of the cottonmouth snake
Although the cottonmouth is dangerous, belongs to the poisonous viper family, he himself often suffers from various ill-wishers who are not averse to eating them.
Many birds of prey attack muzzles from the air, among them can be listed:
- white-tailed eagles;
In addition to birds, there are muzzle offenders among mammals, here you can call badgers, harza (yellow-breasted marten), raccoon dogs. Of course, the most vulnerable are inexperienced young animals, which most often suffer.
One of the enemies of the snake person is a person who harms the reptile, both directly and through indirect influences. Violent human activity harms reptiles by driving them into a spatial framework that is gradually shrinking, and there are fewer and fewer places for successful life, because they are occupied by people.
In some countries, cottonmouths are hunted for gastronomic purposes, because. its meat is considered a delicacy, especially in the cuisine of the peoples of the east. Snake toxin is widely used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetology, because it has many healing and rejuvenating qualities. So, the life of the muzzle in the wild, natural conditions is not easy and is subject to many risk factors and negative influences.
Population and species status
The distribution range of the common muzzle is very extensive, but its population is not so numerous. In almost all areas where the reptile lives, its density is negligible. Large concentrations of snakes can be found only in the spring, during the mating season, in recent years, these snakes have become increasingly rare.
The population of the Pallas muzzle is declining everywhere, which cannot but worry. This is due to various human actions and events. Less and less untouched territories remain where snakes feel at ease, a person constantly presses and displaces creeping ones from their places of permanent deployment.
Cattle grazing, plowing land, draining swampy areas, deforestation, urban and rural expansion settlements, laying of new highways lead to the fact that the number of reptiles is steadily declining, and in some regions it disappears altogether or becomes negligible.
The healing properties of the poison, used in medicine and cosmetology, also harm reptiles, because they are often killed because of them. Delicious snake meat, used in oriental cuisine, also does not benefit the livestock of muzzles, which suffer due to human gastronomic addictions. All of the above negative factors have a negative impact on the number of snakes, which are becoming less and less in different regions.
Protection of the cottonmouth snake
As already noted, the population of the common cottonmouth is gradually declining due to various anthropogenic factors, which causes concern for environmental organizations, therefore this snake species is listed in the Red Books of some regions of our country, where it is most endangered.
For example, the common muzzle is listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Khakassia, where it is considered a rare little-studied species, the distribution area of u200bu200bwhich is very limited. In some regions of the republic, this species of snakes has completely disappeared. The main limiting factors here are sheep grazing, plowing land, and cultivating land with pesticides.
Among the protective measures, the following can be listed:
- safety and non-interference in permanent places of deployment;
- protected areas of the Chazy Reserve;
- promotion of protective measures among local residents.
Pallas cottonmouth is included in the Red Book of the Kemerovo region, where its population is very small and vulnerable. In the Red Book of the Novosibirsk Region, the reptile is listed in the third category, which indicates its rarity and small number.
Such a variety as the stony muzzle is in the Red Book of the Khabarovsk Territory, the number of this reptile is declining on a colossal scale. It is under protection in the territories of the “Komsomolsky” and “Bolshoi Khekhtsirsky” nature reserves.
Drawing conclusions, it remains to be noted that the muzzle snake is not as aggressive as many people think and tries to avoid unwanted encounters with bipeds. The reptile will only attack when it is taken by surprise and there is no escape route. People themselves, at times, behave ignorantly and unceremoniously, barbarically interfering with the measured snake existence, which is why they are subjected to poisonous bites.