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Poison Snakes Swarm Florida Island

A juvenile cottonmouth on Seahorse Key betrays its youth with the brown and black stripes that help disguise it among fallen leaves.

Cottonmouths grow darker as they age, but near Seahorse Key's bird rookerywhere tens of thousands of birds nest each yearthe snakes can look much different.

"The snakes, which are normally almost jet black, can be almost white, because they curl up under the bird rookery and get pooped on," biologist Lillywhite said.

He has seen baby snakes foraging on fish dropped by the birdsa sign, he says, that Seahorse Key's cottonmouths may learn to scavenge at an early age.

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Photograph by Blake de Pastino/NGS
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