Tap to Read ➤

How to Identify a Copperhead Snake

Sonu S
If you live anywhere between Connecticut to Kansas and Florida to western Texas, you might just bump into a Copperhead snake. Here are few ways to identify one.
We often come across diametrically opposite views when it comes to snakes. Some are fascinated by them, while others tremble with fear even at the thought. This story is for both the types, and it tells you how to identify a Copperhead snake.
If looking for a Copperhead, you will find one after going through the steps. And even if you want to run away on spotting one, these steps will help you in that too.
Scientifically known as Agkistron contortrix, they are esthetically appealing and venomous. They are one of the most successful species of larger snakes. This species of snake is responsible for the maximum number of snakebites in the United States. Luckily, their venom is not life-threatening, but it's extremely painful.
Their fondness to America got them the name American Copperhead. The other types which fall under the "Copperhead" family are:
  • Northern Copperhead (A. contortrix mokasen)
  • Southern Copperhead (A. contortrix contortrix)
  • Broad-Banded Copperhead (A. contortrix laticinctus)
  • Trans-Pecos Copperhead (A. contortrix pictigaster)

Identifying a Copperhead Snake

The bite of a Copperhead can be life-threatening if proper medical attention is not given. Children and individuals with lower immunity are at a greater risk in case of Copperhead bites. So it is essential that care should be taken while going into the areas which are natural habitats for the Copperheads.
These snakes prefer residing close to water. They are also found in the forests and suburban regions. These snake have the ability to thrive anywhere.
  • Copperhead: This snake derives its name from its copper colored head. So the easiest way to identify a Copperhead is to look at its head.
  • Color: Their color is usually similar to the color of copper, they just vary in shades, with dark hourglass markings. These markings are intermittent. Their belly is usually of a blend of gray, black and white spots.
  • Face: They belong to the Viper family, so the characteristic face pit can be observed even in the Copperheads. Their eyes are distinct and are similar to the eyes of a cat.
  • Body: They are stout, and taper abruptly.
  • Tail: Young Copperheads have a bright yellow tail, which is meant to attract their prey. Copperheads usually tend to lunge forward without a warning when it feels threatened. In some cases, you can figure when a Copperhead is going to attack by observing its tail. They usually vibrate their tail before attacking.
  • Length: Observe the length of the snake. Copperheads are usually 2 - 4 feet in length.
  • Fangs: The size of their fangs range from around 1 - 7 mm.
  • Type Differences: The darkness and the irregularity in the spacing of the markings on the back of a Copperhead help distinguish between its various types.
  • Sex Differences: To distinguish between a male and a female, observe the length. Females are longer than the males.
Copperheads are great at camouflage. They rely on their camouflage to protect themselves. Their behavior is non-aggressive. They usually freeze when they perceive a threat, and wait for the threat to pass away. When Copperheads cross roads, they freeze on sensing any incoming traffic, and due to this they usually get killed.
It's difficult to spot one in the woods due to the excellent camouflage it is capable of. It won't attack you unless it feels threatened by you, but be careful while walking in the habitat of a Copperhead. If you find one, do not go near it unless you have the expertise in handling snakes.