Copperheads: Part I

A young Copperhead striking a pose in Explore the Wild. Notice how it has coiled and flattened its body.

Prompted by a call over the radio about a Copperhead on the path on the far side of the Explore the Wild/Catch the Wind Loop, and after some deliberation as to whether or not I wanted to go all the way out to the site chasing something that could be long gone by the time I arrived, I hitched a ride with Facilities Tech Dale who happened to be headed that way.

I was in my office trying to get a post out on this blog when I heard the call. It was a rather warm morning so I didn’t want to waste time on what could be a hopeless quest to get a photo of the snake and needlessly get all sweaty in the process. But judging by the back and forth over the radio it seemed like the snake was staying put. When Copperheads “stay put” in the middle of a walkway they are typically relocated to another area of the Museum property out of harm’s way. Animal Keepers Mikey and Katy were on hand to take care of that.

Animal Keeper Mikey ready to safely move the snake to an out-of-the-way location

Ranger Kristin had first seen the snake as she headed out to Explore the Wild. It was a young snake and apparently hadn’t dealt with humans before, it didn’t realize that if it had kept moving along on its way we humans would have simply let it keep right on going without much interference. There would have been some gawking, maybe a few photos, but that’s it, leave it be. The snake, however, struck a pose and stood its ground upon seeing Kristin round the bend with the golf cart she was driving at the time, and it wouldn’t budge.

The tip of the tail of a young Copperhead is bright yellow-green. The brightly colored tail can be used to attract prey such as frogs, lizards, and other small food items. The snake wiggles the tail mimicking a worm or caterpillar. At least one reference states that the yellow fades by age three or four.

The tail still shows a yellowish tint on this youngster.

No doubt a young snake it was quite beautiful in its coloration and pattern.

The pattern on this snake makes it easy to see on the pavement but difficult to distinguish from the leaf litter of the forest.

Young and beautiful, this snake is still nothing to take ligthtly.

Poised an ready.

To be continued…

6 responses to Copperheads: Part I

  1. Mike Fink says:

    In the picture, Animal Keeper Mikey, is in the same location that I found a very small Copperhead (dead)on the walkway when I was walking Lightning one morning, a couple of years ago…


    • Greg Dodge says:

      In my experience there are three locations here that I most often see these snakes crossing the path during spring and fall, near the head of the Dinosaur Trail, in the vicinity of the Bird Feeders, and the area between the Lemur House and the entrance to Catch the Wind. I’ve seen them elsewhere but those three are the more frequent sighting locations for me.

  2. Wilma says:

    what a beautiful snake! The markings are so clear and perfect. I was surprised at how small it is.

  3. leslie says:

    Mikey looks like he’s auditioning for Steve Irwin’s position! 🙂 Excellent snaps as usual Ranger Greg!

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