Don’t Tread On Me!

This is one reason why people get bitten by Copperheads.

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 of course, they are venomous.

When disturbed, Copperheads will remain in this self defense posture for some time.
A typical North Carolina Copperhead.

When left alone, or when it feels there is no longer a threat to itself, a Copperhead will silently crawl off into the woods.

Make note of the pattern on these handsome snakes. The coloration on the Copperhead that we have in Carolina Wildlife here at the Museum is not typical of the Copperheads that are seen in the wild in North Carolina, or the southeast in general. That snake (the one on display here at the Museum), looks more like a southwestern copperhead.

If you happen to see a Copperhead, where ever it is that you like to hike (they’re very common here in North Carolina), just leave it be and it will go away. If you don’t see one, well then, I guess no action is required. Hopefully, when you’re hiking your favorite trail, you step over any unseen copperhead, and not on it!

Have a good hike.

2 responses to Don’t Tread On Me!

  1. Shawntel says:

    Do baby copperheads have a different type of coloring than adult copperheads?

    • Greg Dodge says:

      Baby copperheads look like smaller versions of the adults, except for the fact that the tip of the tail is bright yellow or yellow-green. So, if you see a small snake that is patterned somewhat like a small copperhead, and you’re not sure exactly what it is, it’s probably not a juvenile copperhead if it doesn’t have the bright yellow tail. The yellow tail is very noticeable.

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