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 ofRead more

A Couple More Snakes

Here are photos of two snakes that are common to our area, one venomous the other non-venomous. I’ve discussed the difference between these two species in this blog on several occasions but this is simply a series of photos of the two, a copperhead and a northern water snake. Notice how variable northern water snakes are (below). Know what you’re looking at and watch your step as you go along.Read more

Copperhead vs Northern Water Snake

A slightly different version of this was posted in May of 2013. I know, it’s cold outside. Temps are in the mid-20s as I write and snakes are nowhere to be seen. Most of you are probably not going to spend a whole lot of time outdoors during the next few days, so why not sit back, grab a cup of joe (or cocoa), and brush up on your snake identification skills. Besides, we start seeing water snakes in our WetlandsRead more

A Tale of Two Tails

As I walked towards the Butterfly House on my way to my office, I noticed a small group of young children looking down at the ground and laughing, there must be something interesting over there. I approached. Lying on ground in the center of a circle of four or five squatting children, was a small U-shaped object. The object moved, wiggled. It was the tail of a skink. A few feet away was the skink itself, the lower third ofRead more

Northern Water Snake vs Copperhead

It’s almost a daily occurrence, I’d be watching a water snake coiled up and snoozing in the grass on the north side of the Wetlands, point the snake out to someone passing by and they’d say, “That looks like a Copperhead,” or, “Is that a moccasin, cottonmouth?” or most often, “Is it poisonous?” The answer to that statement and those questions is always no. In explaining my no response, last question first, no snake in our area is poisonous. It’s an honestRead more

Copperheads: Part II

Not more than twenty minutes after seeing the first copperhead in Explore the Wild (8/26/11), another call came in from Rachael (Entomology Specialist) that a snake was on the path near the head of the Dinosaur Trail. Rushing off to that location, we discovered a larger Copperhead more accustomed to the presence of humans, it was leisurely crawling across the pavement and headed for the woods. Leave it alone and it will leave you alone. Unfortunately the snake crawled under aRead more

Don’t Tread On Me!

When a Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) hears, or feels, you coming its way it generally freezes. They often stop their forward motion and wait for you to pass by, relying on their cryptic coloration to hide them from your view, you being a potential predator. Most folks pass right by Copperheads, unseen. Some people accidentally step on these docile snakes for the same reason (they don’t see them), causing the snakes to react with a bit to the leg. And ofRead more

Is that a Moccasin?

I’ve said this before, snakes have been putting on a show in the Wetlands. The one pictured at right sat out in the open for quite a while at the foot of the boardwalk near the main Black Bear Overlook while many Museum guests got great looks at it. Understandably, upon first viewing this snake many folks thought it a Copperhead, or Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin). It’s neither. It’s a Northern Water Snake. The pattern on water snakes can vary considerablyRead more