Northern Copperhead

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Is the Northern Copperhead right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Highland Moccasin; Beech-leaf Snake

Scientific name: Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen

The basics:
The attractively-marked Northern Copperhead may reside in suburban counties adjacent to large cities, and is sometimes mistakenly described as “mildly-venomous”. As is true for all venomous snakes, it is best enjoyed in zoos and the wild, and should not be kept in private collections.

The range extends over much of the Eastern and Central United States, from southwestern Massachusetts to southwestern Illinois and south to northeastern Mississippi, northern Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

The Northern Copperhead favors wooded hills with rocky outcroppings, stone walls in overgrown fields, forest edges, and agricultural areas.

Appearance / health:
This stoutly built snake is copper, orangish, or pink-tinged tan in color and marked with dark, chestnut-colored cross-bands. Adults average 2-3 feet in length, with a record of 4 feet, 4 inches.

Northern Copperheads have lived to age 25+ in zoos.

Behavior / temperament:
Although generally less high-strung than their rattlesnake relatives, Copperheads are treated with utmost respect by professional zookeepers.

Venomous snake species are not suitable as pets in private collections. It is impossible for a private snake owner to adequately prepare for or treat a venomous snakebite, or, prior to a bite, to arrange for treatment in a hospital.

The varied natural diet includes chipmunks, voles, young gray squirrels, cicadas, frogs, lizards, snakes, and birds. Zoo animals do well on diets comprised of mice and small rats.

Mating occurs in April-May, and occasionally in autumn. The young, 1-14 in number, are born in August-October and are 7-10 inches in length. Sexual maturity is reached in 2-3 years.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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