Northern Copperhead
Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen

*** VENOMOUS ***

Venomous Snake Bite Information || Copperhead look-a-likes || Cottonmouth look-a-likes || Safety Precautions in Copperhead Country

Common Name:

Eastern Copperhead

Scientific Name:

Agkistrodon contortrix



Agkistrodon is derived from the Greek word ancistron which means "fishhook". This is in reference to recurved fangs.


contortrix is from the Latin word contortus which means "twisted" or "intricate" in reference to the dorsal pattern.

Vernacular Names:

Dumb rattlesnake, red adder, red eye, red snake, white oak snake, deaf snake, beech-leaf snake, chuck head, copper adder, copper-bell, deaf adder, hazel head, popular leaf snake, thunder snake, harlequin snake.

Average Length:

24-36 in. (61-90 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

48 in. (121.9 cm)

Record length:

53 in. (134.6 cm)

Family Viperidae: This family comprises 150+ species in 20+ genera distributed on all continents except Antarctica and Australia (Zug, 1993). Most are heavy-bodied snakes with a distinct head and vertical pupils in the eye. Vipers possess a pair of hollow fangs, one on each of the two maxilla bones located beneath the nostrils. The bones and fangs rotate from a resting position along the roof of the mouth to an erect position by the mechanical action of lowering the lower jaw. These fangs provide the functional means to inject modified saliva (venom) deep into prey. Venom glands lie behind the eyes under the masseter muscle and each is connected to the fang by a hollow duct. Vipers regulate the amount of venom injected by their control over the masseter muscle. Venom, and the means to inject it, evolved for the purpose of prey capture, but it is sometimes used as a defensive measure.

The majority of the species in this family are pit vipers (120+ species); the remaining 50 or so species are true vipers. Each species of pit viper possesses a heat-sensing pit located between the eye and nostril that is used to aid in prey location. This group is often classified in the subfamily Crotalinae, although some taxonomists refer them to full family status, the Crotalidae. The pit organ contains heat-sensitive cells that are responsive to changes in temperature of 0.001°C (Halliday and Adler, 1986). This mechanism probably evolved to allow prey capture in dark spaces, like rodent burrows. A pit viper can detect the presence of a rodent prey and determine its relative size and distance in total darkness.

The family Viperidae is represented in Virginia by only three species of pit vipers: the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), the Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and the Northern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus).

Systematics: Originally described as Boa contortrix by Carolus Linnaeus in 1766, based on a specimen sent to him by Alexander Garden from "Carolina." Schmidt (1953) restricted the type locality to Charleston, South Carolina. The genus Agkistrodon was first used for this species by Palisot de Beauvois in 1799 (Gloyd and Conant, 1990). Early authors interpreted the spelling of the genus to be either Agkistrodon, following Baird and Girard (1853) and Stejneger and Barbour (1917, 1923, 1933, 1939, 1943), or Ancistrodon (Wagler, 1830; Cope, 1860), and thus the generic name flip-flopped between these two spellings for well over the last century. In the Virginia literature, Ancistrodon was used by Cope (1900), Dunn (1915d), Schmidt (1953), Wood (1954a), Martin and Wood (1955), Goodwin and Wood (1956), Hutchison (1956), and Reed (1957a, 1957b). Agkistrodon was used by Hay (1902), Dunn (1915a, 1915c), Werler and McCallion (1951), Conant (1958,1975), Burger (1958), Musick (1972), Mitchell (1974b, 1981a), Martof et al. (1980), and others. Klauber (1956) showed that Agkistrodon was the most appropriate spelling based on the Law of Priority. Baird and Girard (1853) first assigned the specific name contortrix to Agkistrodon, and numerous authors in the Virginia literature (noted above) used the combination Agkistrodon (or Ancistrodon) contortrix.

Description: A medium-sized, heavily bodied snake (Plates 56 and 57) reaching a maximum total length of 1,346 mm (53.0 inches) (Gloyd and Conant, 1990). In Virginia, maximum known snout-vent length (SVL) is 1,094 mm (43.1 inches) and maximum total length is 1,219 mm (48.0 inches). Tail length/total length in the Virginia sample was 10.0-16.7% (ave. = 13.3 ± 1.3, n = 185).

Scutellation: Ventrals 140-157 (ave. = 147.9 ± 2.5, n = 214); subcaudals 38-53 (ave. = 45.3 ± 1.5, n = 197) and single, except for 0-17 divided subcaudal scales (ave. = 6.8 ± 4.4, n = 183) near tip of tail; ventrals + subcaudals 183-203 (ave. = 193.2 ± 3.7, n = 197); dorsal scales strongly keeled, scale rows 23 at midbody; anal plate single; infralabials 10/10 (41.0%, n = 178), 9/9 (27.5%), or combinations of 8-11 (31.5%); supralabials 8/8 (56.2%, n = 178), 7/7(14.6%), 7/8(25.8%), or combinations of 6-9 (3.4%); loreal scale present; preoculars 2-3; 4-5 small scales separating eye from supralabials and temporals; temporal scales variable, generally combinations of 4-7 + 5-7 on both sides.

Coloration and Pattern: Dorsum of body and tail pinkish tan to dark brown to nearly black with a series of 10-18 (ave. = 14.5 ± 1.5, n = 221) hourglass-shaped crossbands; crossbands chestnut to dark brown, narrow (2-5 scales at middorsal) in middle and wide laterally; 0-8 bands (ave. = 1.4 ± 1.5, n = 211) may not be connected at middorsal line and some halves may lack partners altogether; crossbands start above scale row 1 on each side and are lighter in centers on side and darker at middorsal area; small, dark-brown blotches-2 scales in diameter or less may be present between crossbands; most dorsal scales sprinkled with black flecks, which in some snakes may be quite intense; ventrolateral black spots, below and between crossbands, are all of nearly equal intensity, except toward tail; venter cream with variable amounts of black flecking and black smudges; dorsum of head tan to brick red (resembling red Piedmont clay) to brown and separated from white to cream labial region by a thin, dark-brown line; usually 1 tiny, dark-brown spot in each of 2 parietal scales on center of dorsum of head; chin cream, usually without black flecking. The head is somewhat triangular and distinct from the narrow neck. The dorsum of the head is flat.

Sexual Dimorphism: Adult males reached a larger average SVL (732.7 ± 153.4 mm, 500-1,094, n = 99) than females (597.8 ± 92,6 mm, 380-952, n =80) and reached a longer total length (1,219 mm; females 1,083 mm). Sexual dimorphism index was -0.23. The variation in tail length/total length was nearly identical for both sexes (males 10.0-16.5%, ave. = 13.3 ± 1.3, n = 102; females 10.6-16.7%, ave. = 13.3 ± 1.2, n = 78). Average body mass in adult males (272.9 ± 136.4 g, 91-525, n = 15) was greater than that in adult females (178.1 ± 69.6 g, 103-318, n = 7).

The average number of ventral scales was similar between sexes (males 147.8 ± 2.2,140-154, n = 118; females 148.1 ± 2.6,141-157, n = 91), as was the average number of body crossbands (males 14.5 ± 1.5,11-18, n = 121; females 14.6 ± 1.5,10-18, n = 95). The average number of subcaudals was slightly higher in males (46.4 ± 2.5, 38-53, n = 108) than in females (44.0 ± 2.3, 38-52, n = 84). A similar pattern was expressed in the average number of ventrals + subcaudals (males 194.4 ± 3.3, 185-201, n = 108; females 192.0 ± 3.7, 183-203, n = 84). There are no apparent sexual differences in color or pattern.

Juveniles: Juveniles are colored and patterned as adults, with the notable exception that the tip of the tail (about 25-30% of its length) is sulfur yellow. Juveniles lack the black flecking seen in adults; it appears with age. Neonates had a SVL of 170-205 mm (ave. = 196.5 ± 8.7, n = 17), a total length of 204-243 mm (ave. = 233.2 ± 8.7, n = 16), and an average body mass of 7.0 g (mean for one litter). Gloyd and Conant (1990) reported that newborn A. contortrix had a total length of 190-280 mm and weighed 7.2-9.4 g.

Confusing Species: Many people in Virginia call almost every snake with a pattern an Eastern Copperhead. Corn Snakes (Pantherophis guttatus) have a series of chestnut-brown blotches, each surrounded by black, along the dorsum; a gray to reddish-brown background; a conspicuous eye-jaw stripe; and a black-and-white checkerboard venter. Eastern Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) have brownish blotches on a gray to gray-brown background and either a black-and-white checkerboard pattern or extensions of the dorsal pattern on the venter. Juvenile Eastern Ratsnakes (Pantherophis alleghaniensis), often killed for Eastern Copperheads, have a series of dark-brown blotches on a grayish-white background and a dark eye-jaw stripe. The Northern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) is darker and has broad, dark-olive to black crossbands on a yellowish to olive background, a dark-olive to yellowish-olive head, and a black tail. Juvenile Northern Cottonmouths have the yellow tail tip and broad crossbands on a pinkish to brownish background.

Geographic Variation: The average number of ventral scales (males and females combined) varied from 144.2 ± 2.7 (141- 148, n = 6) in the Appalachian Plateau to 148.5 ± 2.7 (144-153, n = 19) in the lower Piedmont, except for the sample from the southern Blue Ridge Plateau, which averaged 150.8 ±3.1 (148-156, n = 5) . The average number of subcaudals (entire + paired) ranged from 44.2 ± 3.7 (38-49, n = 17) in the lower Ridge and Valley region to 45.8 ± 2.9 (42-53, n = 42) in the southern Coastal Plain. The number of divided (paired) subcaudals varied from a low of 5.0 ± 1.6 (3-7, n = 4) in the southern Blue Ridge Plateau to a high of 8.8 ±2.7 (6-13, n = 6) in the Ridge and Valley north of the New River and 8.8 ± 5.3 (1-15, n = 6) in the Appalachian Plateau.

The average number of body crossbands varied from 14.0 ± 1.1 (12-17, n = 44) in the southern Coastal Plain to 15.7 ± 0.5 (15-16, n = 6) in the Appalachian Plateau. Individuals of Agkistrodon contortrix with 1-3 broken crossbands are common throughout Virginia. Fourteen specimens with 4-6 broken crossbands were collected from the lower Coastal Plain, the upper and lower Piedmont, and in Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains. One A. contortrix specimen from Lunenburg County, in the lower Piedmont, had 8 broken crossbands, and one from Botetourt County, in the northern Blue Ridge Mountains, had 7. The width of the midbody crossband at the middorsal line varies from 2 to 5 scales; widths of 1 or 6 are rare. Counts of 2-3.5 are common throughout Virginia. The higher counts of 4-5 are commonly found in snakes from the Blue Ridge Mountains westward; counts of 2- 4 have been recorded for snakes from southeastern Virginia.

Geographic variation in Virginia A. contortrix is expressed primarily in body color and pattern. Snakes from southeastern Virginia have brown to dark-tan crossbands on a light-tan to pinkish background, and reddish-tan heads; those from the Piedmont have dark-brown or chestnut crossbands on a reddish-brown to grayish-brown background, and reddish heads (much like the color of Piedmont clay); and those from the mountains and Ridge and Valley have dark-brown or chestnut crossbands on a brown to grayish-brown body, with heads of various shades of brown. Snakes from the extreme southwestern region of Virginia and many snakes from the mountains possess considerable black flecking over the body, producing in some cases a very dark snake. These are general differences, as individuals in any region may show extremes in color. Individual specimens of Agkistrodon contortrix from the Piedmont and mountains often exhibit a series of lateral brown spots alternating with the dorsal crossbands. Snakes in southeastern Virginia usually do not possess this character.

Biology: Eastern Copperheads are terrestrial snakes inhabiting a wide array of habitats. They are found in hardwood and mixed hardwood-pine forests, pine woods, abandoned fields in various stages of succession, high ground in swamps and marshes, forest-field ecotones, hedge rows, suburban woodlots, ravines along creeks in agricultural and urban areas, upland rocky areas, rock walls and woodpiles, and forested dunes near beaches, as well as around barns and houses (especially dilapidated ones) in agricultural areas. Musick (1972) noted that blueberry thickets are favored habitat. In Pennsylvania, Reinert (1984a, 1984b) found that A. contortrix utilized relatively open areas with higher rock density and less surface vegetation than the sympatric Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). This probably pertains to upland Virginia habitats as well. I have found them coiled under vegetation in orchards and on farms. Habitat requirements appear to be sunlit areas with sources of prey (see below), and year-round shelter. Such places are often found near human habitation, and A. contortrix will take advantage of these situations. Eastern Copperheads will seldom climb high into vegetation but will swim when necessary.

Agkistrodon contortrix is diurnal and nocturnal during warm weather (generally May through September), depending on the temperature, and is primarily diurnal in the cooler seasons. Movement is stimulated by rains and the urge to mate and seek food. The normal seasonal activity period is 9 April through 30 October (museum records). Clifford (1976) recorded active snakes from May to October in Amelia County. Wood (1954a) reported that individuals of A. contortrix were seen from 16 April to 12 December in Shenandoah National Park, but that it was uncommon to find them earlier than May or later than September. Elevation influences the length of the activity season. Eastern Copperheads often overwinter in aggregations in dens, sometimes shared with Crotalus horridus (Wood, 1954a) or Coluber constrictor (C. H. Ernst, pers. comm.), in the mountains, but in small numbers or singly in the Piedmont, Coastal Plain, and low-elevation valleys in the Ridge and Valley region.

Eastern Copperheads are predators of many types of prey. What they eat depends on the size of the snake and the types of prey available. Juveniles consume more invertebrates than adults, whereas adults eat more small mammals. In their study in the George Washington National Forest, Uhler et al. (1939) found the following prey in 72 specimens: meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus), woodland voles (Microtus pinetorum), southern red-backed voles (Clethrionomys gapperi), southern bog lemmings (Synaptomys cooperi), white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), jumping mice (Zapus or Napaeozapus), chipmunks (Tamias striatus), unidentified squirrels, northern short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda), least shrews (Cryptotis parva), masked shrews (Sorex cinereus), hairy-tailed moles (Parascalops breweri), ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris), an unidentified warbler (Dendroica spp.), an unidentified passerine bird, Slimy Salamanders (Plethodon glutinosus = cylindraceus), Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus), Red Salamanders (Pseudotriton ruber), an unidentified frog (Lithobates spp.), Fence Lizards (Sceloporus undulatus), Eastern Wormsnakes (Carphophis amoenus), moth caterpillars, and cicada nymphs. De Rageot (1957) reported a Dismal Swamp short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda telmalestes) from an Eastern Copperhead collected in the Dismal Swamp. I found a star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) in a specimen from Giles County. To this list C. H. Ernst (pers. comm.) added skinks (Plestiodon spp.) and Eastern Garter Snakes (Thannophis sirtalis). Predators of Eastern Copperheads are not well known. Megonigal (1985) reported the predation of a Dismal Swamp adult by an Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula). W. H. Martin (pers. comm.) observed a broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus) catching an Eastern Copperhead by a rock wall along the Skyline Drive in Rockingham County. Gloyd and Conant (1990) listed Northern Black Racers (Coluber constrictor), Eastern Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum), and Kingsnakes of both Virginia species (L. getula, L. nigra) as ophiophagus predators. Numerous individuals are also killed each year on Virginia's highways.

Agkistrodon contortrix is viviparous. Mating, described in Schuett and Gillingham (1988) and Ernst (1992), occurs in spring and fall. Gloyd and Conant (1990) noted that mating is "frequent during the first few weeks following cessation of hibernation and occasional throughout the active season, especially during the autumn." W. H. Martin (pers. comm.) observed mating in Loudoun County, Virginia, on 26 May 1977 and a male "courting" a dead (DOR) female on the Skyline Drive, Rockingham County, on 15 September 1974. C. H. Ernst (pers. comm.) observed mating on 24 April 1985 in Fairfax County. Mating is sometimes preceded by male combat (Mitchell, 1981a; Ernst, 1992). Gloyd (1947) recounted the following observation made by Joseph Ackroyd near Winchester, Frederick County, in late July 1945 (only the actual behavior is reported here):

Possibly two-thirds of the anterior portions of the snakes' bodies were entwined vertically with the exception of a portion of the neck. The heads were opposite each other and were held horizontally, three or four inches apart. They seemed to gaze hypnotically at each other and there was a slight swaying movement between them. About one turn of coil was wound and unwound, first in a clockwise and then in a counterclockwise direction. At no time did the distance between the heads change during the rhythmic movements, and at no time did the snakes progress along the ground. It seemed as if the posterior ends were definitely "anchored."
On three distinct occasions one of the snakes broke the rhythm of the dance by darting its head rapidly at the other. The visibility was not good but I imagined the movement to be a caress, with contact made somewhere in the region of the chin of the other snake.
What most amazed me was their utter disregard for me. I watched them from a distance of about three feet, engulfed them in the rays of the light for minutes, and yet the dance continued. From the time I first saw them until they were prodded with a stick and moved off into the underbrush, approximately twenty minutes elapsed.

The smallest mature male from Virginia had a SVL of 475 mm and the smallest female a SVL of 375 mm (S. J. Stahl and J. C. Mitchell, unpublished). Ovulation occurs in late May to early June, and birth usually occurs from late August until early October. Known birth dates are between 10 August and 6 October. W. H. Martin (pers. comm.) observed spent females and newborn young at montane den sites in Virginia between 22 August and 22 September, and a gravid female on 6 October. Litter size in Virginia was 3- 15 (ave. = 7.6 ± 3.9, n = 18), but 1-21 rangewide (Ernst, 1992). Dunn (1915c) reported the first notes on reproduction in this species in Virginia: 7 neonates born 1 September 1913 in Nelson County. Wood (1954a) reported birth dates of 26 and 28 September and litter sizes of 6 and 7.

Eastern Copperheads appear to be more abundant in the mountains than in the Piedmont or Coastal Plain. Uhler et al. (1939) recorded 213 copperheads in a sample of 885 from the George Washington National Forest. Martin (1976) reported it to be the most abundant snake that he observed in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a 3-year period: 243 out of 545 snakes recorded. Clifford (1976) recorded only 17 Eastern Copperheads out of 278 snakes in Amelia County in a 4-year study. Werler and McCallion (1951) noted they were "apparently uncommon" in Princess Anne County (= City of Virginia Beach). Quantitative studies of population size have not been performed in Virginia. Fitch (1960) found a density of 6-9 snakes per hectare in a Kansas population in which estimated natural longevity was 13 years and average annual adult survivorship was 71%.

Eastern Copperheads will vibrate their tails when disturbed but will usually remain alert and motionless, especially if found under vegetation or in other diurnal retreats (Wood, 1954a). The characteristic alert pose at rest is with the body coiled and the head elevated at a 45° angle. They are usually docile when caught but will strike on provocation. Very warm Eastern Copperheads, such as those encountered on a hot summer road, are apt to be pugnacious.

Remarks: Other common names in Virginia are highland moccasin (Dunn, 1915a, 1918); copperhead moccasin (Dunn, 1936; Burch, 1940); moccasin (Car- roll, 1950); pilot snake, chink head, and upland moccasin (Linzey and Clifford, 1981); and poplar leaf (Brothers, 1992). Gloyd and Conant (1990) noted that the term "moccasin" is used incorrectly to refer to several species of snakes, including the nonvenomous water snakes (Nerodia), and suggested that the term not be used at all.

Agkistrodon contortrix is the least venomous of the three venomous snakes in Virginia. As far as I can ascertain, no one in recorded Virginia history has died from the bite of this species. A summary of snakebite patterns and treatment is presented in the section "Venomous Snakebite." Beck (1952) noted that a Rappahannock County myth claimed that Eastern Copperheads, like all venomous reptiles, inflicted a wound into which they "blew" green venom from tubes. Thus, removal of fangs would render the snake only slightly less dangerous.

Conservation and Management: Agkistrodon contortrix is not a species of special concern in Virginia because of its abundance and widespread distribution. Like all snakes, Eastern Copperheads play important roles in the economy of nature and should be removed from human-inhabited areas, not killed. Maintenance of this species in a natural biotic community requires an abundance of small mammal prey, open areas with hiding places that can be used for basking, and overwintering sites that allow the snakes to hibernate below the frost line.

References for Life History


Eastern Copperheads have dark colored crossbands that are for the most part shaped like an hourglass.
Usually some of the crossbands are broken and do not connect.

The northern copperhead is a pit-viper, as are all three of Virginia's venomous snake species (northern copperhead, eastern cottonmouth and timber rattlesnake). The "pit" in pit-viper refers to the heating sensing pit located between the eye and the nostrils on the snake's head. In addition to the heat sensing pit all three venomous snakes in Virginia have vertical pupils. All harmless snakes in Virginia have round pupils and lack the heat sensing pits. Another characteristic of all Virginia's venomous snakes is the single row of scales on the underside of the tail after the anal plate (vent).

While close inspection of a snake's face and/or it's anal plate is a definitive way to distinguish a venomous snake from a harmless species, it requires one to get dangerously close to a potentially dangerous animal. It is far better to learn the pattern and coloration of a few snakes so that a specimen may be identified from a safe distance.

Copperheads play a pivotal role in controlling rodent populations. Without copperheads and other rodent eating snakes there would be a drastic increase in crop/food damage and rodent spread diseases. While Copperheads are venomous they are very placid snakes that only bite if stepped on or otherwise threatened. If you see a copperhead, leave it alone and rest assured it will do its best to avoid you.

Confusing Species

Probably the most common snake misidentified as a copperhead is the harmless juvenile eastern ratsnake (formerly called the blackrat snake). The eastern ratsnake starts life with a strong pattern of gray or brown blotches on a pale gray background. As the eastern ratsnake ages the pattern fades and the snake becomes black, often with just a hint of the juvenile pattern remaining.

Around late August to mid October depending on the temperatures, eastern rat snakes look for a nice warm place to wait out the upcoming winter. Frequently these snake will choose a house attic, crawlspace or basement. Luckily, copperheads don't usually seek winter refuge in human occupied dwellings.

Eastern Copperhead vs. Eastern Ratsnake

Venomous Eastern Copperhead Harmless Eastern Ratsnake
Both the northern copperhead and eastern ratsnake are found state wide in Virginia.
The hourglass pattern on the copperhead's back starts on the side of the snake. The blotch pattern of the eastern ratsnake do not extend to the sides.


Eastern Copperhead vs. Northern Black Racer

Like the eastern ratsnake, black racers are also born with a blotched pattern. However, unlike the eastern rat snake that may retain the juvenile pattern for several years, the pattern of the black racer usually fades to a uniformed black within the first two years of life. Juvenile black racers usually do not seek winter refuge in human occupied dwellings. Black racers are usually one of the first snakes to become active when spring arrives.

Venomous Eastern Copperhead Harmless Northern Black Racer
Both the northern copperhead and northern black racer are found state wide in Virginia.


Eastern Copperhead vs. Northern Watersnake

Juvenile and subadult northern watersnakes have a pattern that can vary greatly in color, from dark grayish to a reddish brown. The color of some individuals watersnakes can come close to that of some copperheads, however the pattern on the northern watersnake is always narrow on the sides and wide near the backbone. This is completely opposite of the pattern found on the copperhead (wide on the sides and narrow near the back bone). Some adult northern watersnakes retain a strong, distinct juvenile pattern while others become a uniformed brown. As the name implies, the northern watersnake is usually found in close proximity to water.

Venomous Eastern Copperhead Harmless Northern Water Snake
Both the Eastern Copperhead and Northern Watersnake are found state wide in Virginia.


Eastern Copperhead vs. Eastern Milksnake

The pattern of the eastern milksnake is fairly consistent in Virginia, however the intensity of the colors can vary quite a bit. Usually the blotches across the back are outlined in black. Eastern milksnakes are found state wide, but are more abundant in the mountainous regions.

Venomous Eastern Copperhead Harmless Eastern Milksnake
Both the northern copperhead and eastern milksnake are found state wide in Virginia.


Eastern Copperhead vs. Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern hognose snakes are the great actors of the snake world. In an effort to ward off predators these snakes will puff-up, hiss loudly, spread their neck and strike with the mouth closed. If all else fails the hognose snake will roll over and play dead. Found state wide the pattern and coloration of these snake can vary greatly. Eastern hognose snakes prefer sandy soil and primarily feed on toads.

Venomous Eastern Copperhead Harmless Eastern Hognose Snake
Both the northern copperhead and eastern hog-nosed snake are found state wide in Virginia.
The pattern of the eastern hognose snake can vary greatly and thus isn't a reliable identifying characteristic.

The upturned snout of the hognose snake is unique among Virginia's snakes.


Eastern Copperhead vs. Corn Snake

The corn snake also known as the red ratsnake is usually more brightly colored and and has a more reddish hue than that of the copperhead. The pattern of the corn snake is a blotch that does not extend down the sides to the ground. Unlike the juvenile pattern of the eastern ratsnake that fades as the snake ages, the pattern of the corn snake remains distinct regardless of age.

Venomous Eastern Copperhead Harmless Corn Snake


Eastern Copperhead vs. Mole Kingsnake

Juvenile mole kingsnakes have a strong pattern that usually, but not always fades to a uniformed brown as the snake ages. Mole kingsnakes are seldom seen out in the open and are general found under surface cover (plywood, tin, flat rocks, etc..). Mole kingsnakes will sometime venture out in the open after a heavy rain.

Venomous Eastern Copperhead Harmless Mole Kingsnake


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