Watch How Mind-Bogglingly Fast a Copperhead Snake Strike is in Slow Motion

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: September 8, 2022
Image Credit Joe McDonald/Shutterstock.com
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Think You Know Snakes?

The copperhead snake is responsible for more venomous snake bites in the United States than any other snake. They can be found throughout most of the eastern seaboard, as far north as Massachusetts and west to Texas. It is most common in deciduous forest and near swampy areas. They are more aggressive than most snakes and are the species most likely to bite. Most of us would keep away from them.  But when this beautiful copperhead was found in the middle of a road it resulted in an incredible filming opportunity, and we get to share it!

The lovely creature was found out in the open on a sandy road. They are a highly adaptable species that can live in a variety of habitats, and that includes near human settlements and even construction sites! They are found in many areas of the U.S. including Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas and Ohio. This is a young southern copperhead, the scientific name is A. contortrix contortrix. They are found in eastern Texas and eastern Oklahoma but also in Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.

In this footage, we are treated to a close-up view of the copper-colored head and pink body with dark hour-glass bands. The tip of the tail is yellow and is used as a lure to attract lizards, frogs and other prey. These are not huge snakes, the largest ones are around four feet long. We know that this is a young animal because of its small size.

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Copperheads have been described as ‘ambush predators,’ which means that they sit and wait – until some unsuspecting prey stumbles past, and then they strike with amazing speed. They feed on insects, other invertebrates, small mammals, and birds. Once they have plunged their fangs into the prey and released the venom, they either hold it in their mouth as it dies or follow it and wait for it to become immobile. Then, they eat their meal whole by fully opening their hinged jaws. These guys only need to eat around once a month!

Broad Band Copperhead Snake
Copperheads are “ambush predators,” meaning they lie in wait to attack unsuspecting prey.

Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.com

The strike is an integral part of how they hunt, and they are very good at it! The copperhead snake in this video strikes a total of 12 times, so we get to view it in detail. It starts from an elongated position and the strike is so powerful that the whole body is lifted off the ground. It lands in the classic viper-coiled position from which it launches the other strikes. They are very impressive in real time but once the footage is slowed down you can really appreciate the power and the accuracy of the strike. The head is extended forward with explosive speed, it is no wonder that it is such an efficient hunting mechanism.

Having provided us with such a magnificent display of its hunting prowess, this particular copperhead is gently moved from the road and to a safe location amongst the trees where it can get on with its day!

Are Copperheads Usually This Touchy?

Copperheads are ambush predators and generally lie in wait and then strike fast. While they are more likely to bite than other snakes, they will generally leave you alone if you leave them alone. They don’t usually continue to bite unless they feel threatened. The maker of this video was provoking the snake so that he could film the strike. Definitely not something you would want to do!

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About the Author

Sharon has a Ph.D. in Public Health but has spent the last decade researching and writing about all things connected with animal health and well being. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a very energetic Cocker Spaniel but in the past she has also been a Mom to Guinea Pigs and several cats!She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and reviewing products that make pet owners' lives a bit easier. When she isn't checking out new pet products she's trekking around the Welsh mountains and beaches with her dog - although she lets her husband and her three grown up daughters tag along sometimes if they are lucky!

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