Southern Copperhead

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Is the Southern Copperhead right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Copperhead; Highland Moccasin; Chunkhead

Scientific name: Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix

The basics:
The Southern Copperhead is the USA’s most abundant venomous snake. This fact, and a mistaken-belief that it is only “mildly-venomous”, sometimes tempts snake enthusiasts to maintain them in captivity. However, as is true for all venomous snakes, the Southern Copperhead is not suitable for other than zoo collections.

The range extends over much of the Southeastern and South-Central United States, from southern Delaware and Maryland south to northern Florida and west to southeastern Missouri, southeastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas.

The Southern Copperhead favors moist lowland habitats such as marsh edges, cypress swamps, and streamside thickets, but also frequents lightly wooded hills, overgrown fields, and agricultural areas.

Appearance / health:
The background color is pale copper-orange or pink-tinged tan with chestnut colored, hourglass-shaped cross bands. Southern Copperheads average 2-3 feet in length, with a record of 4 feet, 4 inches.

Southern Copperheads have lived to age 25+ in zoos.

Behavior / temperament:
These rattlesnake relatives often adjust well to captivity if provided large, stress-free exhibits, but they 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 natural diet is extremely varied, including chipmunks, voles, cicadas, caterpillars, frogs, lizards, snakes and birds. Zoo animals are fed 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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