The United States is home to various snakes, venomous or otherwise. The rattlesnake, cottonmouth, and copperhead are three of the most recognized. The copperhead is the most common of these and lives throughout the eastern portion of North America. Read on to learn how big copperheads can get.
A Few Facts About the Copperhead
- It is a pit viper endemic to the eastern half of the United States and northeastern Mexico.
- It is the most common venomous snake in North America.
- A young copperhead will move its tail like a worm to attract small prey.
- Though it is not quite as dangerous as other pit vipers, the copperhead’s venom generally affects the tissue around the bite. It immediately damages blood cells as soon as it enters the bloodstream.
- Some animals, such as opossums and kingsnakes, appear immune to the copperhead’s venom.
- Female copperheads can sometimes give birth to young on their own using a process known as parthenogenesis.
- Copperheads hibernate and sometimes share hibernation spots with other snakes, such as rattlesnakes and rat snakes.
Types of Copperhead
There are two species of copperhead, though they once were considered five subspecies: northern, osage, southern, broad-banded, and trans-pecos. DNA studies have determined that the northern, osage, and southern copperheads are the same species—the eastern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix.) The broad-banded and trans-pecos copperheads are now members of the broad-banded copperhead species (Agkistrodon laticinctus.)
Copperhead Size: Just How Big Are Copperheads?
Male copperheads weigh 3½ to 12 ounces, while females average slightly over 4 ounces. In practical terms, a large copperhead can be as long as a baseball bat or a yardstick. In comparison, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake can reach lengths of up to 8 feet—about as long as a surfboard—and weigh up to 8 pounds. At the other end of the spectrum, the Brahminy blind snake is only 4½-6½ inches long—about the size of a hot dog.
|Eastern copperhead||2-3 feet long||3½-12 ounces|
|Broad-banded cpperhead||1½-3 feet long||3½-12 ounces|
Copperhead Size: Largest Copperhead Ever Recorded
According to the University of Georgia Extension, the longest copperhead on record is 4 feet 5 inches. This was an eastern copperhead which tends to be the largest copperhead variety.
Places You’re Most Likely to Encounter a Copperhead
The likelihood of coming across a copperhead depends on where you live and what hiding places are around you—copperheads like living in areas with some cover to avoid threats.
- The broad-banded copperhead is a western copperhead. It is found from the southern border of Kansas, down through Oklahoma and Texas, and into northeast Mexico.
- Eastern copperheads are found from Missouri to southern New England in the North and eastern Texas along the gulf coast to the Atlantic Coast of Georgia in the South.
Copperheads love forests, where they can shelter in humid regions and logs near rivers, under leaves, and tree debris. In addition, they like fields, whether natural or for crops or grazing. Near humans, they like rags, tarps, wood piles, garages, and other places that might hide them.
If you were wondering about the size of the copperhead snake, now you know that it is about 2-3 feet long—larger than a blind snake (or a hot dog) but smaller than the eastern diamondback rattlesnake (or a surfboard.)
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