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Agkistrodon conanti GLOYD, 1969

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Crotalinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: conanti: Florida Cottonmouth
G: Florida-Wassermokassinotter 
SynonymAgkistrodon piscivorus conanti GLOYD 1969: 226
Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 229
Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti — CROTHER 2000: 56
Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 491
Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti — SCHMIDT & KUNZ 2005
Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti — CROTHER et al. 2012
Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti — LILLYWHITE 2014: 24
Agkistrodon conanti — BURBRINK & GUIHER 2014
Agkistrodon conanti — SHEEHY et al. 2017
Agkistrodon conanti — CROTHER et al. 2017
Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti — GUYER et al. 2018 
DistributionUSA (Florida and S Georgia)

Type locality: "at edge of Rochelle-Cross Creek Road, about 7 miles southeast of Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida".  
Reproductionviviparous; facultative parthenogenesis (BOOTH et al. 2012). 
TypesHolotype: USNM 165962, paratypes: USNM, AMNH, FMNH, 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (conanti): The Florida Cottonmouth (A. conanti) is diagnosed from the subspecies A. p. conanti. This species is a medium- to large-bodied semi-aquatic pit viper with an average adult size 76–122 cm and a maximum size of 189.2 cm (Gloyd & Conant, 1990; Conant & Collins, 1991), with a ratio of tail to total length of 0.15–0.19 in males and 0.13–0.18 in females. There is a single anal plate, keeled dorsal scales and typically 25 midbody scale rows (range 23–27; Gloyd & Conant, 1990). Subcaudals range from 45 to 54 in males and from 41 to 49 in females, whereas ventral scales number 135–145 in males and 132–144 in females (Gloyd & Conant, 1990). Supralabials and infralabials range from 6 to 10 (mode 8) and 9 to 12 (mode 10), respectively, and total postoculars + suboculars range from 2 to 4 (mode 3; Gloyd & Conant, 1990). A combination of ge- ography and colour pattern distinguishes the Florida cottonmouth from related species. There are 11–16 dark cross-bands on an olive, brown or black background, which may become subdued in adults, whereas A. piscivorus generally has 10–17 cross-bands that often become indistinguishable from the ground colour in adults (Gloyd & Conant, 1990). The head is typically brown with vertical stripes along the snout on the rostrals, prenasals, and first supralabials (Gloyd & Conant, 1990). Dark stripes appear on the lower jaw extending from the mental to the first four or five infralabials (Gloyd & Conant, 1990). A dark cheek stripe is present bordered above and below by pale stripes and often present in adults, although it is often in- distinguishable from the ground colour in adult A. piscivorus (Gloyd & Conant, 1990; Conant & Collins, 1991). The distribution of the Florida Cottonmouth extends from southern Florida to approximately Savannah, Georgia, and west to south-eastern Alabama (Fig. 5B), whereas the Northern Cottonmouth ranges in the USA from south-eastern Virginia to central Georgia, east of the Appalachian Mountains, north to southern Illinois and eastern Kansas. Hybridization between the Florida and Northern cottonmouth occurs in the mid-Atlantic coastal plains in southern North Carolina to the southern coastal plains in south- eastern Louisiana and diagnosis may be difficult without additional morphological and molecular data for some individuals in this area (Burbrink & Guiher 2015: 522). 

Subspecies: The monophyletic Florida subspecies A. piscivorus conanti is now considered as a distinct species (at 4.8% SD), whereas two western subspecies of A. contortrix also appear to constitute a single distinct species, pending additional analyses. Both species of Agkistrodon can be used as suitable ectothermic models to gauge impacts of future climate change (DOUGLAS et al. 2009, Burbrink & Guiher 2014).

Synonymy: Burbrink & Guiher (2015) synonymized A. p. piscivorus and A. p. leucostoma into a single species, A. piscivorus. They split off A. conanti as separate species whose range overlaps with that of A. piscivorus, with an hybrid zone where the two ranges overlap. 
EtymologyNamed after Roger Conant, American herpetologist and director of the Philadelphia Zoological Garden. 
  • Althoetmar, K. 2018. Als die Schlange kannibalisch wurde. Reptilia 23 (133): 52-55 - get paper here
  • Burbrink, Frank T. and Timothy J. Guiher. 2014. Considering gene flow when using coalescent methods to delimit lineages of North American pitvipers of the genus Agkistrodon. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 173: 505–526 - get paper here
  • Collins, J.T. & Collins, S.L. 2009. A pocket guide to Kansas snakes, 2nd ed. Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, 69 pp.
  • Crother, B. I. 2000. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Herpetological Circular 29: 1-82
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • Enge, Kevin M. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti (Florida cottonmouth). Herpetological Review 44 (3): 475 - get paper here
  • Enge, Kevin M., Jonathan D. Mays and Bess B. Harris. 2016. Geographic Distribution: Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti (Florida Cottonmouth). Herpetological Review 47 (1): 82 - get paper here
  • Friers, Josh and James P. Flaherty. 2015. Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti (Florida cottonmouth) diet. Herpetological Review 46 (4): 636-637 - get paper here
  • Gloyd, H. K. 1969. Two additional subspecies of North American crotalid snakes, genus Agkistrodon. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 82: 219-232 - get paper here
  • Guyer, Craig; Mark A. Bailey, and Robert H. Mount 2018. Lizards and snakes of Alabama. University of Alabama Press, 397 pp. - get paper here
  • Lillywhite, H. B.; J. B. Pfaller and C. M. Sheehy III 2015. Feeding preferences and responses to prey in insular neonatal Florida cottonmouth snakes. Journal of Zoology, DOI: 10.1111/jzo.12256 - get paper here
  • MCFADDEN, K., Z. BUTLER, AND K. TWEEDY 2020. Agkistrodon conanti (Florida Cottonmouth). Burrow/ Habitat Use. Herpetological Review. 51:607-608.
  • Schmidt, D. & Kunz, K. 2005. Ernährung von Schlangen. Natur und Tier Verlag, Münster, 159 pp. - get paper here
  • Sheehy, C. M., III, et al. 2017. Cannibalism and changing food resources in insular cottonmouth snakes. Herpetological Review 48 (2): 310-312 - get paper here
  • Tennant, A. & Bartlett, R.D. 2000. Snakes of North America - Eastern and Central Regions. Gulf Publishing, Houston, TX, 588 pp.
  • Tetzlaff, Sasha J., David L. Tetzlaff, Michelle Schoenbeck and Nick Clark. 2014. Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti (Florida cottonmouth) diet and phenotype. Herpetological Review 45 (3): 511-512 - get paper here
  • Wharton, C. H. 1969. The cottonmouth moccasin on sea horse key, Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum 14 (3): 227-272 - get paper here
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