What kind of snake?

Asked May 25, 2020, 11:11 AM EDT

Hi there, I was walking last night and almost walked right into this guy. Can you tell me what kind of snake it is? Thank you!

DeKalb County Georgia

1 Response

Thank you for your question. The snake in your photographs is a copperhead, scientific name Agkistrodon contortrix. It is a venomous species. There are two subspecies of copperhead found in Georgia, as well as several other states, the southern copperhead, A. contortrix contortrix and the northern copperhead, A. contortrix mokasen. In your area of the state, the population is generally made up of offspring that are the result of interbreeding between the two subspecies.

Copperheads are found throughout portions of Georgia. They are the most common venomous snake encountered in the United States. Nationwide they range from portions of Massachusetts, south to north Florida and west from Nebraska down to Texas.

Typical length is 2 - 3 feet, and maximum length can be slightly over 4 feet. They can be found in all types of terrestrial habitats.

They have a pretty varied diet that includes small rodents, birds, frogs, lizards, other snakes and even large insects.

More people in the eastern United States are bitten by copperheads than any other venomous snake. Bites can produce a great deal of pain, but few fatalities have been recorded. The key to minimizing the effects of any venomous snake bite is seeking medical attention right away.

If you're interested in learning more about snakes in your area, check out these links:

Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources - Wildlife Resources Division's Snake Information and Resources web page:

https://georgiawildlife.com/georgiasnakes

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory's Snakes of South Carolina and Georgia web page:

http://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/index.htm

Here are some excellent books on snakes in your area:

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

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

Elliott, Matt J., Gibbons, J. Whitfield, et al. (2008). Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

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

Jim