What kind of snake is this?

Asked March 18, 2019, 1:51 PM EDT

Hello! Can you tell what kind of snake this is? I should have taken a picture of the entire body, but I did not.

snakes snake identification copperhead agkistrodon contortrix

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. There is nothing in your question that indicates the location of the snake (i.e., city and state, or country if outside the U.S.). Can you tell me where you are located?

Thanks,

Jim

Sorry! The snake was found in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Thank you for the location information. The snake in your photograph is a copperhead, scientific name Agkistrodon contortrix. It is one of our native venomous species.

Typcial length is between 2 - 3 feet. Maximum length can be in excess of 4 feet.

They are found from central and southern New England, throughout the southeast, except the southern part of Georgia and most of Florida and west from a small portion of Nebraska and south to a large portion of Texas. They can be found in every county in North Carolina. They can occupy just about any habitat including rocky areas in the mountains, mixed hardwood forests, near swamps, in agricultural areas and suburban neighborhoods. As long as there is adequate food and places for them to hide, copperheads will take advantage of the habitat.

They feed on a variety of prey, including voles, mice, frogs, lizards, other snakes and birds. They have also been known to feed on large insects.

Copperheads depend on their excellent camouflage to remain undetected. If threatened, they will often vibrate their tail and strike out in the direction of the threat. This can occur if a person or animal is several feet away from the snake and in no danger of actually being bitten. It is thought that this action is part of the snake's threat display and meant to discourage the person or animal from approaching any closer. Of course, if you get close enough or actually attempt to pick up the snake, they will bite. They may also release a strong smelling musk when disturbed.

Here's a link to the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina website's page for this species:

http://herpsofnc.org/copperhead/

Here are some excellent field guides for snakes in North Carolina:

Beane, J. C., Braswell, A. L., Mitchell, J. C., Palmer, W. M., & Harrison III, J. R. (2010). Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Dorcas, M. E. (2004). A Guide To The Snakes Of North Carolina. Davidson: Davidson College.

Gibbons, W. & Dorcas, M. (2015). Snakes of the Southeast. 2nd edition. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

Gibbons, W. (2017). Snakes of the Eastern United States. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

I hope this answers your question, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.

Jim