Identifying a Copperhead Snake and Facts You May Not Know

About the Copperhead Snake

The Copperhead Snake is one of four general species of poisonous snakes which habitats include the United States. Along with the Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth, and Coral snake, the Copperhead posses a poisonous threat to its victims, including humans. These snakes are not generally aggressive and will avoid contact with humans if at all possible.

Copperhead Snake

Four Species of Copperheads in North America

The common name for the Copperhead is simply, American Copperhead. In this broader category, there are included four sub-species of Copperheads. These include the Northern and Southern Copperhead, the Broad-Banded Copperhead and the Trans-Pecos Copperhead. The Copperhead can be found throughout the southeast United States from north Florida all the way up into the state of Massachusetts. Their territory extends west to Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio.

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copperhead snake

Identify a Copperhead Snake

The Copperhead Snake gets its name from the coloration of its head which is bright copper color. The body will be chestnut with darker brown bands wrapping around the body. The bands will crisscross the snake’s body and will alternate between rust and copper shades. The average Copperhead will grow to approximately three feet in length. The record copperhead captured measured a very impressive 74 inches in length, although this length should be considered very rare.

Facts About the Copperhead Snake

The Copperhead is a member of the Pit Viper family. Like other snakes in this family, the Copperhead will have a triangular shaped head and eye pupils which are elliptical. The Copperhead will give birth to between seven and ten young in late summer or fall. The young will be approximately 7 inches in length and will have the same coloration as the adult but with a yellow tip on its tail.

The Copperhead likes heavily wooded areas. It is an ambush predator, preferring to hide and launch a surprise attack on its victim. It will feed on small birds, rate, mice and other small mammals and amphibians. The Copperhead is all but invisible when laying atop a pile of dried leaves. Its protection and hunting advantage comes from its camouflage. This is also a downfall for the snake. When threatened the snake will remain motionless, hoping the danger will pass without seeing it. This leaves the snake very vulnerable to attack by humans.

Poisonous Bite of the Copperhead Snake

The Copperhead Snake accounts for 37 percent of all venomous snake bites in the United States. While bites are rather frequent, they are rarely fatal. Typically a Copperhead bite will result in swelling, very low blood pressure, pain in the extremities and a decrease in blood clotting ability. Young children and persons with underlying medical conditions remain at the highest risk of fatal injury from a Copperhead Bite.

As with most venomous creatures, the Copperhead’s venom will affect each individual differently depending on their sensitivity to the venom. While deaths do occur, estimates put the fatal rate at less than 1 fatality per 5000 Copperhead bites. Any bite, however, should be considered very serious and immediate medical attention should be provided. 

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