Living with Agkistrodon contortrix, the Copperhead

Basic tips if you share habitation with copperheads:

copperhead bands

Notice the banding, fat at the belly, skinny over the spine. From the back it looks like an hourglass, from the side like a Hershey’s Kiss. The band can break up over the back like in the snake below.


Admit it, beautiful colors! They range from this deep copper to a sort of greeny and a sort of pinky. 2007 Edward J. Wozniak D.V.M., Ph.D (

1. Know what they look like. In North Carolina, look at the dark banding. They are the only snakes whose bands get skinnier over their spines. All other snakes have bands that fatten over their spines. Other signs are the very triangular head, the cat-like pupils, having split scales underneath the tail, and an extra set of “nostrils” (actually heat sensors called pits).

2. Know where your feet are. Know where your hands are. Know where your behind is. Do not put these body parts in places you cannot see.

3. Show some respect. Nobody likes being picked up, or poked with sticks, or stepped on. It’s horribly rude. Perfectly reasonable to try and teach you some manners if you haven’t got any.

4. If misunderstandings occur and you end up bitten, mosey yourself on down to the hospital. You will have an uncomfortable week and then discover if your health insurance covers antivenin. But you will survive. You will keep your toes. You WILL end up with a story and a scar and possibly a nasty  hospital bill. But that’s it.


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