Copperhead Snake

Copperhead Snake

Copperhead Snake
By Michael Page

The name Copperhead Snake can actually refer to a wide range of different snake species.

  • The American Copperhead Snake (Agkistrodon contortrix) is a pit viper species native to North America.
  • The Copperhead Rat Snake (Elaphe radiata) is a rat snake species native to Asia.
  • The Australian Copperhead snakes forms an entire genus of elapids native to Australia, the genus is named Austrelaps.

American Copperhead Snake
The American Copperhead Snake (Agkistrodon contortrix) belongs to the genus Agkistrodon; a group of snakes commonly referred to as moccasins. The American Copperhead Snake is a pit viper; an ambush predator that will stay hidden and wait for a mouse to arrive. It feeds chiefly on small rodents like voles and mice.

The name copperhead is derived from the coppery coloured head and neck of the adult members of this snake species. Even as adults, American Copperhead Snakes usually stay around 1.5 feet (50 centimetres), but occasionally specimens do reached a length of 3 feet (1 metre). Compared to other pit vipers, the American Copperhead Snake have an unusually slender body.

There are five recognized subspecies of American Copperhead Snake:
Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix
Agkistrodon contortrix laticinctus
Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen
Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster
Agkistrodon contortrix pictigaster

Asian Copperhead Snake
This snake is also known as Copperhead Rat Snake and Radiated Rat Snake. Its scientific name is Elaphe radiate and it is a member of the Rat Snake genus Elaphe, which makes it a distant relative of the popular Corn Snake pet. You can find this Copperhead snake species in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Australian Copperhead snakes
The Australian Copperhead Snakes are three different species of elapids belonging to the genus Austrelaps: Austrelaps labialis (Pygmy Copperhead Snake ), Austrelaps ramsayi (Highlands Copperhead Snake ), and Austrelaps superbus (Lowlands Copperhead Snake ). The Pygmy Copperhead Snake is found in South Australia while the Highlands Copperhead Snake inhabits New South Wales and Victoria. The Lowlands Copperhead Snake range overlaps the ranges of the other two species, and this snake lives in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria as well as on the island of Tasmania.

The Australian Copperhead Snakes tolerate cold temperatures much better than most other snakes and are the only Australian snakes that live above the snowline. They do become dormant during the winter, but they enter a dormant state much later than most other snake species and they are also typically the first snakes to start hunting again in spring. The Australian Copperhead Snake is famous for its love of water and it frequently hunts swimming. They are usually diurnal hunters, but when the Australian weather becomes really hot they will refrain from hunting during the day. Examples of commonly caught prey are frogs, but the Copperhead snake will eat virtually any animal of manageable size. It will even eat its own offspring. The venom of the Australian Copperhead Snake is strong enough to cause fatalities in humans, and you should therefore always seek medical attention if you have been bitten.

Copperhead Snake articles:

Baby Copperhead Snake
Copperhead Snake Bite


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