Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Toxicophis pugnax

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Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti


A cottonmouth snake (Agkistrodon piscivorus), showing the white inner mouth it received its name for.
from Greek ancistron, meaning fishhook


Traditional name

Used parts

trituration of the poison


Animalia; Chordata / Vertebrata - Vertebrates; Reptilia - Reptiles; Serpentes - Snakes; Crotalidae



Original proving

The effects of Toxicophis, the moccasin snake of North America, have been observed in three cases of bites. Proving: Farokh J. Master
Grimmer's Collected Works

Description of the substance

Description: Average adult size is 20-48 inches (51-121 cm), record is 74.5 inches (189 cm). A dark-colored, heavy-bodied snake. Juveniles are brightly colored with reddish-brown crossbands on a brown ground color. The dark crossbands contain many dark spots and speckles. The pattern darkens with age so adults retain only a hint of the former banding or are a uniform black. The eye is camouflaged by a broad, dark, facial stripe. The head is thick and distinctly broader than the neck, and when viewed from above, the eyes cannot be seen. The top of head in front of the eyes is covered with large plate-like scales. The pupil is vertical (catlike). There is a deep facial pit between the nostril and the eye. Young juvenile Cottonmouths have a sulfur-colored tail.
Range: Found throughout Florida. The species extends north to Virginia and west to Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Habitat: Any wetlands or waterway in the state. Cottonmouths can be found along streams, springs, rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, sloughs, reservoirs, retention pools, canals, and roadside ditches. It occasionally wanders far from water, and has been found in bushes and trees.
Comments: Though the Cottonmouth occurs throughout the state, it is not as abundant as the many species of harmless water snakes that occur in much the same habitat. Many Florida residents do not even realize that water snakes exist. As a consequence, every large dark-colored snake found near water is counted, and usually killed, as a Cottonmouth. Cottonmouths can easily be distinguished from water snakes. If the head is viewed from above, the eyes of Cottonmouths cannot be seen while the eyes of water snakes are visible; Cottonmouths have elliptical pupils and water snakes have round pupils; Cottonmouths have a facial pit between the nostril and the eye, and water snakes have none. Some people believe Cottonmouths lie in wait on tree limbs overhanging water so they can drop into boats. These are usually cases of mistaken identity. The harmless brown water snake often basks on tree limbs over the water, and when frightened by a rapidly approaching boat, they will escape by throwing themselves off the limb and into the water. Occasionally their flight comes too late and they fall into the boat. Cottonmouths feed on fish, frogs, mice, rats, and other small mammals. When threatened, the Cottonmouth may respond by coiling its body and opening its mouth as though ready to bite. The exposed white interior of the mouth is what gave rise to the common name, Cottonmouth. If not hard pressed, the Cottonmouth usually will retreat. This open mouth threat display has led to the widespread belief that Cottonmouths are aggressive snakes. In fact, they are one of the more sedate, even placid, poisonous snakes. Cottonmouth bites can be quite dangerous. The victim should seek immediate medical care from a physician or hospital experienced in treating snakebite. Juvenile Cottonmouths hold the tail erect and wiggle its yellow tip like a caterpillar to attract prey within striking range.

Range: USA, from southern Alabama to southeastern Texas, northward to Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

Authority: Troost, 1836
Cottonmouth bear live young

The cottonmouth and copperheads are the most primitively developed of the pit vipers.