View Full Version : Beware of baby Copperheads!

09-13-2008, 10:38 PM
Its that time of year when the female copperhead gives birth to her young and I know this because I ran into a nest today. Remember this, When you see one beware there usually another around. Today I saw a male under some old plywood and with further investigation I found the female and six babies. Below is some information that might be helpfull.

This medium-sized venomous snake is identified by its strong, hourglass-shaped dark cross-bands. The head may have a distinctive copperish color, thus the name "Copperhead". The top of the head will also show two rather distinct dots. The tail of an adult Copperhead will be black with bright white flecks. As with all of the Pit Vipers found in the state, the Copperhead has heat-sensing pits. These occur between the eyes and nostrils. The pupils (as with all Pit Vipers in the state) are vertical, like a cat's.
Two subspecies, the Southern Copperhead (A. c. contortrix) and Osage Copperhead (A. c. phaeogaster), intergrade in the state.

Juveniles look similar to adults, but have a bright neon yellow tail.

This species is also known as the Highland Moccasin or Upland Moccasin.


While this relatively common snake may be found pretty much anywhere in the state, a few of its favorite places seem to be old abandoned barns (and other similar structures), rock piles, and rugged, rocky woodlands.


Habits and Life History
Copperheads typically den in relatively damp and shaded rock crevices (when compared to Timber Rattlesnake den sites), but other denning sites, such as animal burrows, may also be used. They emerge from hibernation in mid to late April and quickly disperse in search of prey.

Human encounters with this snake become more commonplace during the very hottest part of the summer for two primary reasons. One reason is that this is the mating season and males are moving around much more in search of females. The second reason is that it appears this is a time of year when Copperheads become increasingly more active in their pursuit of prey. In fact, they may even congregate in areas where large numbers of Cicadas are emerging; even pursuing them into trees! Dusk and dawn seems to be when these snakes are on the move the most.

A female who is gravid (from insemination the year before) will seek out a suitable spot to bask and may move very little for an entire month. She will give birth to live young in late summer, but it may take up to a week after birth for her and her babies to disperse (probably back toward a suitable denning site).

Temperament and Defense
I have found Copperheads to employ two primary means of defense when first encountered. One is to freeze completely, likely in hopes that they will remain invisible to any potential harm. Two is that they dart away in a hasty retreat.

If you would like to read more or see pictures visite the following website.

09-13-2008, 11:01 PM
Some good info.
Always good to keep your eyes open for "Mr. No-Shoulders" while out and about. Caching or in your yard, that is where I have seen most Copperheads and I don't have anything in my hand to whack them with.
I could tell you a story, but I will save it for another day.

09-14-2008, 07:04 AM
Thanks SHADOWCACHERS for the heads up on the snake problem and the very detailed information on the copperhead. We really need to be aware when we are out geocaching. I have seen a few snakes while on the trail but so far no venemous ones. Maybe.

I could tell you a story.

I bet you could AR-HICK, I bet you could. I just read one of your "Stories" yesterday.

09-14-2008, 08:43 PM
I think I'll stick to the LPCs, don't think the copperheads can climb up in them! :wink:

09-15-2008, 01:00 AM
You'd be surprised what you can find in LPC's... Such as wasps (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/log.aspx?LUID=0452b321-643d-4a83-a293-7c076aea6edf)!

09-15-2008, 05:29 PM
great post! i'm really surprised that i have not had more snake encounters since moving to AR. i've been tromping around in the woods for over a year now and can only remember one encounter up in Searcy at a cache called MCD.
i was taught by my mom at an early age that if i see a snake (Snake, BAD!)
to 'get a hoe and chop its head off'. now that i'm all grown up, i guess i would (after coming down from orbit and landing 10 ft away) just throw my GPS, CellPhone and Palm at it til it slithers away.

09-15-2008, 06:09 PM
Snakes were the main reason I started carrying a hiking stick. I have seen lots of them over the years around these mountains but only recently have I bothered to learn which ones are poisonous or not. The only trouble is that there are a couple of poisonous ones that look really similar to non poisonous ones so I just keep my distance. I have had 4 encounters with snakes while out caching. Twice this year, once it was just a rat snake curled up under the same bush the cache was hidden under. The second was back in June when I ran across a timber rattler that was digesting his latest meal. I only wish I'd had my camera because he was a beautiful snake. I have seen a lot of copperheads and they are some of the most photogenic of all the snakes I have seen. I love the patterns and colors on them.

09-16-2008, 03:49 AM
The pupils (as with all Pit Vipers in the state) are vertical, like a cat's.

I for one don't intend to get close enough to check out the pupils, LOL