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Agkistrodon contortrix
Venomous; 24-45 inches (610 to 1,143 mm); common
distribution map

Distribution key: blue=where snake is found

The Copperhead is a stout-bodied snake that feeds on cicadas, caterpillars, mice, birds, frogs and lizards. It prefers to live in wooded areas, among rocks, or near streams or ponds because prey are more plentiful in such locations. Favorite hiding places include stone walls, sawdust, mulch or compost piles, and and under decaying stumps, in wood piles, under abandoned building debris, and under large flat stones. This snake will be seen basking during the day when weather is cool but not cold. During summer heat, it will stay hidden during the day and become active at night. In October the Copperhead retreats to its underground den to hibernate until late February or early March. Dens are most often in rocky hillsides with southern or eastern exposure to the sun. These “snake dens” will be returned to year after year and may contain a large number of snakes. In late summer through mid-October, between 1 and 14 young are born alive rather than hatched from eggs.

Note lifesize juvenile picture beneath first picture.
Are Copperhead snakes really dangerous?


Picture provided by Gordon Rutzen, Wake County.

juvenile copperhead

Lifesize photo of a young copperhead provided by Michael Lyons. Note the lemon yellow tail, and the ant to the right.