This snake averages to 24-36 inches in length and has an hourglass pattern that runs the length of its body. This reptile is well-named named, because of its distinctive feature of a copper or bronze-colored top and sides of the head.
It’s coloration and pattern act as camouflage, as tan, brown and rust-colored bands allow the Northern Copperhead to disappear easily into dried up, fallen leaves, sticks and limbs.
Typically, these snakes use rock outcrops or rocky areas with talus slopes for cover, feeding and as entrance ways to subterranean hibernating quarters. They have a wide range in their diet, which includes small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and even insects.
Northern Copperheads give birth to live babies. Young copperheads are more grayish in color than adults and possess bright yellow or greenish yellow tail tips, which arer used to lure prey. The Northern Copperhead is a venomous snake, though is relatively mild and its bite is rarely fatal to humans.
Like rattlesnakes and water moccasins, copperheads are pit vipers. Pit vipers have heat-sensory pits between eye and nostril on each side of head, which are able to detect minute differences in temperature, so that the snake can accurately strike the source of heat, which is often potential prey.
It’s always a thrill to come across one of these beautiful and well-camoflauged snakes when out herping. Last weekend I saw two while visiting southern Illinois, and they were welcome finds