Southern Copperhead

Agkistrodon contortrix

Southern Hospitality

Southern copperheads are social snakes and may hibernate in a communal den with other copperheads or other species of snake. In the Zoo's Herpetarium, we have a southern copperhead and timber rattlesnake that cohabitat, a potential occurrence in southeastern United States.

About the Species

Temperature-sensitive pit organs are present below the midline between the eye and the nostril.

This snake has a distinctive reddish-brown body with a cross band pattern of tan, copper and brown colors. They are heavy bodied snakes. Their head is distinct from the rest of the body as it is a solid rich brown color.Although copperheads are venomous, their venom is somewhat mild compared to other snake species and is usually not fatal to healthy human adults. Juveniles are grayer in color and have a yellow tinted tail tip until the age of 3 to 4 years. The tinted tail lures small prey by mimicking caterpillar movements. Juveniles and adults have fully functioning fangs that can deliver proportionately equal amounts of venom to their prey.

Words From the Experts


Copperheads have some of the best camouflage of any North American snake. This snake's venom is being used in studies for potentially treating breast cancer.


Did You Know?

The facial pits located on either side of their face detect extremely subtle differences in temperature, allowing the snake to determine the direction from where the heat source originates.



Inhabits the Florida panhandle north to Southern Delaware and west to SE Missouri, SE Oklahoma and East Texas


Can be found in an array of habitats such as forests, woodlands, swamps, caves and suburban areas


Average length is 76 cm.


Rodents and other small animals such as frogs and lizards, birds.


Birds of prey, opossums, coyotes and other snakes

Natural Defenses

Southern copperheads rely on their markings for camouflage. They will vibrate the tip of their tale to mimic a rattlesnake.


Female copperheads are viviparous. The number of offspring range from 1-21. These young snakes are able to find and capture their own prey at time of birth.


Least concern

Life Expectancy

15 years average

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