Agjistrodon contortrix

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Copperhead Snake-Agkistrodon contortrix

Habitat Terrestrial to semi-aquatic habitats. Could be found in types of places such as forested, hillsides, or wetlands.

Range Overall, it can range from Northeastern Mexico to Northern Massachusetts down to Florida, and as far West as Nebraska.

Description Adult copperheads are about 30 inches and the females tend to be larger than the males. They have an unmarked copper-colored to reddish-brown head. They have copper colored bodies with chestnut brown bands towards the midline. The underside, belly area, of the northern subspecies is dark.The belly of the Trans-pecos Copperhead is strongly patterned. It has an hourglass pattern that is narrow on the top of its back and wider on its sides.Copperheads are thick-bodied and have keeled scales.Young copperheads are 7-10 inches long and grayer in color than adults.They have a sulfur yellow tipped tail, which fades with age and is lost by age 3 or 4.

Ecological Notes

After hibernation during the winter, they will immediately begin to find a mate. Copperheads are viviparous and give live birth rather than laying eggs. The gestation period is about three months. During late summer and early fall, 3-10 snakes can be born. Female and male Copperhead snakes reach sexual maturity around the same time when they are about four years old. They wills shed and replaces its skin 1-3 times annually.Their diet primarily consists of rodents, other reptiles, and amphibians. It has been noted that juveniles will eat more of a protein rich diet consisting of small invertebrates.They rely on chemoreception for taste and smell because of relatively poor visual and hearing abilities. They are swift hunters, primarily ambushing their prey since they can sneak up on them so well due to their good camouflage and venom.



References

Herrmann, B. 2000. "Agkistrodon contortrix" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 24, 2012 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Agkistrodon_contortrix.html

Nielsen, A. "Reproduction, diet, mating, shedding skin & life-cycle" (On-line), Copperhead Snake. Accessed April 26, 2012 at http://www.copperheadsnake.net/

Journal Articles

Eli Greenbaum The influence of prey-scent stimuli on predatory behavior of the North American copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix (Serpentes: Viperidae) Behav. Ecol. 2004 15: 345-350.