Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)
New York, United States
Posted Jan 23, 2016
I’ve had the good fortune to work with this and other vipers in zoos for decades but, fascinating though they are, I feel strongly that they should never be kept in private collections. Unfortunately, the southern copperhead’s large populations, willingness to breed and generally modest price tag leads some to label it as an “ideal starter hot snake”. Please ignore such advice!
Snake venom is constantly evolving in response to prey animal defenses, and we know little about the toxins produced by many species. Due to these facts, and because individual sensitivities and other factors can greatly affect one’s reaction to a bite, even those species that are sometimes referred to as “mildly venomous” must be considered as capable of causing human fatalities. It is impossible for a private snake owner to adequately prepare for or treat a venomous snakebite. This, or a related species, can easily be viewed in most any major zoo – please limit your viper “interactions” to zoo visits, or seek employment as a zookeeper or herpetologist if you have a serious interest.