Unlike other fast-moving snakes, the cantil has a short, heavy body. As juveniles, they will lure potential prey by wiggling their bright yellow tail as if to mimic a worm, which attracts frogs, lizards, or other prey items.
This snake is classified in the same genus as the native cottonmouth. Like all pit vipers, the Mexican cantil has a pair of heat-sensitive pits located between the eye and nostril on each side of the head. The Mexican cantil is a dark brown ground color, overlaid with darker brown or black bands, often fringed with white or cream scales. Juvenile cantils usually possess more distinctive banding and brightly colored tails, which is used to lure prey.
This animal performs a behavior known as caudal luring. The tip of the tail is a pale yellow color, which it uses as a lure to attract its prey within striking distance.
The Mexican cantil has the longest fangs of any species within the Agkistrodon genus, growing over one centimeter in length.
Mexico and Central America
Areas bordering rivers or streams, grasslands, cultivated lands
80 cm long (avg.)
Amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals
humans (habitat loss)
Venomous and camouflage
ovoviviparous; 5–10 per litter