Northern Copperhead Snake

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The northern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) has a stocky body that may be copper, orange or pinkish with dark hourglass-shaped crossbands. This coloration helps them with camouflage because they resemble fall leaves on the forest floor of the rocky, wooded habitat they prefer. Young copperheads have a yellow-tipped tail which they flick to lure prey to them. The non-venomous milk snake has similar coloring and is sometimes confused with the adult copperhead.

Copperheads breed twice during the year -- February to April and August to October, producing 3 - 10 live young each time. They will grow to reach an average of 24 - 36 inches as an adult. Copperheads typically live one to seven years, with a maximum of thirty years. The snake eats a variety of small rodents, insects, lizards and frogs.

Although they are shy and seldom seen, the native northern copperhead has the "honor" of having bitten more people than any other venomous snake in the United States. However, there have been very few deaths attributed to the very painful bite. Still, they should be considered dangerous. When they are encountered, they will normally remain still or move away. If they feel very threatened, they will shake their tail (although they have no rattle) and strike out in self defense.

Like many snakes, the copperhead is diurnal in the spring and fall but becomes nocturnal during the summer. It is common to see a copperhead at night after a shower lying on the warm, wet road pavement.

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