SREL Reprint #2070

 

 

 

 

AGKISTRODON PISCIVORUS PISCIVORUS (Eastern Cottonmouth). COLORATION

JOHN R. LEE

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802

On 3 August 1994, a 72 cm SVL gravid Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus was captured in the Savannah River Swamp on the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina, USA. The normally-pigmented female was returned to the lab and gave birth to five young on 3 September 1994. The litter consisted of two live-born hypomelanistic males, one live-born normal male, and two stillborn normal males. The young of this litter were larger (SVL average = 22.92 cm, SD = 0.59 cm; mass average = 20.32 g, SD = 0.55 g) than those of 10 other litters (mean SVL = 20.05-22.76 cm, mean mass = 12.27-19.83 g) born around the same time from females in the same population. The patterns of the hypomelanistic neonates were normal, having red-dish-brown dorsal bands lined with white on a yellowish-tan ground color (Fig. 1). The venters were light tan with reddish brown blotches. The eyes were the same colors as the dorsal bands and ground colors. One of the hypomelanistic neonates died upon eating a cage mate and is specimen #3483 in the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory natural history collection. The other is being maintained in captivity for educational use through the SREL Outreach Program.
The author thanks R. A. Seigel, M. S. Mius, and J. W. Gibbons for comments on the manuscript. Research related to this observation was supported by Contract DE-AC09765ROO-819 between the University of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Energy.

SREL Reprint #2070

Lee, J.R. 1996. Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus (Eastern cottonmouth) coloration. Herpetological Review 27:22.

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