Copperhead Encounter

It’s no secret that copperheads occur in the Carolina Piedmont. In fact, they’re found throughout the state. To the dismay of some the non aggressive yet venomous snake can often be seen in suburban back yards. We have our own population here at the Museum of Life and Science.

Here, they’re typically encountered during spring and fall as they move back and forth between their summer and winter quarters. I sometimes see them crossing paths following heavy rains. All of that is fine, expected, and poses no problems in regard to we humans. I’d wager they avoid encounters with humans as much or more than we them. I generally leave them be when I see one. Occasionally though, a copperhead will show up in a place that warrants attention and perhaps intervention.

Most people who are bitten by a copperhead are bitten because they step on the hapless snake, who naturally strikes out to protect itself. This is not difficult to understand in the woods where their camo matches the forest floor. They’re hard to single out among the leaves and other forest debris. When the snakes hear, or feel, the approach of humans they freeze, letting their excellent camouflage take over. If they don’t move, you, or a potential predator, will most likely not see them and walk right on by. Hopefully for all involved, they won’t be tread upon.

On pavement, the snakes are quite obvious, and as I said, the snakes tend to freeze when approached. When this happens, and whoever it is that’s approaching stands and watches the snake, it’ll probably stay put. This is usually when the museum’s animal department is called in to relocate the snake.

What are Lew and Richard (Butterfly House) looking at?

Following the heavy rains of last month’s hurricane Florence a copperhead was spotted in front of the door to one of the back entrances to the Butterfly House. It crawled off to the side when confronted, but was still deemed a candidate for relocation.

It’s a snake, on the stone just left of the timber. A copperhead.

A request was sent in to the Animal Department. Keepers Jill and Mary soon arrived.

An agitated Copperhead.
Hook in hand, Jill reaches in for the snake.
Copperhead captured.
Snake being secured for transport.

Jill and Mary deftly performed their duties and relocated the snake to another less frequently traveled section of our 84 acre campus. Both snakes and humans are better off for the move.

Well done Keepers!

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