According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, one of the state’s 46 species of snakes is the eastern copperhead. Often referred to as copperhead, it is a commonly spotted pit viper. Adult copperheads sometimes grow up to 37 inches and are most active in cooler weather.
Georgia’s copperheads, like other snakes, are an important part of the ecosystem. However, despite their use, they are still venomous. If you’d like to know all about copperheads in the state of Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation, read on. This article takes a look at Georgia’s copperheads, where they live, and how often they bite.
Copperheads in Georgia
The state of Georgia is home to the eastern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), commonly referred to as copperhead. This species of snake is found all over South America and is known to favor forests, woodlands, and swampy regions. In the winter, just like black rat snakes and timber rattlesnakes, they hibernate in limestone crevices or dens.
How to Identify Copperheads in Georgia
Copperheads are medium-sized snakes. They measure from 20 to 37 inches and weigh anywhere from 0.5 – 0.8 pounds. They have heat-sensing pits that look like a second set of nostrils, located between their actual nostrils and their yellow cat-like (elliptical pupil) eyes.
Like rattlesnakes, they have thick bodies and ridged or keeled scales. One of their most distinctive features is the crossbands on their tan to pinkish-tan colors. These crossbands alternate on either side of their bodies and are divided at the midline.
What Parts of Georgia Have the Most Eastern Copperheads?
Eastern copperheads can be found all around Georgia, except in the southeastern parts. Like most snakes, they do not like open areas. They are easy to spot in Georgia’s northern mountains and can also be found in forests, especially when hardwood is present.
Copperheads are also found in areas with rock piles or large rocks. Georgians occasionally spot eastern copperheads in swamps and low riverine areas.
How Often Do Eastern Copperheads in Georgia Bite?
According to the Georgia Poison Center, copperheads bite more Georgians than any other snake species. They estimate that 7,000 – 8,000 people per year are bitten by venomous snakes in America. In 2016, the state reported its highest number of snake bites yet. 466 snake bites were reported, most of which were from copperheads.
Eastern Copperhead’s Venom
Copperheads are known for their extremely painful, but rarely fatal bites. Their bites are often accompanied by severe pain, incessant tingling, throbbing, as well as intense nausea. Their venom contains toxins that cause damage to bone tissue and muscle.
How to Avoid Copperheads in Georgia
Copperheads are venomous and should be avoided. Since Georgia records a lot of copperheads, Georgians need to take care to avoid them. If you suffer from snake phobia or simply want to stay safe, here are some tips to help you avoid copperheads.
- Keep your lawns trimmed. Snakes like to hide in grassy areas.
- Ensure that your surroundings are not littered with piles of rock, debris, wood, or grass.
- Plant snake-repelling plants that really work.
What To Do If You See a Copperhead in Georgia
If you end up seeing a copperhead in Georgia, it will freeze up at first. Remember that sudden movements threaten them. Stay calm and walk away as quietly as you can. Then, put a call through to Georgia’s pest control services. Remember that copperheads help keep the population of several pests in check and shouldn’t be killed.
What to Do If You Get Bitten by a Copperhead in Georgia
Despite its low fatality rate, it is important to contact emergency services immediately if you get bitten by a copperhead. It is easier to effectively treat a copperhead’s bite if it is reported in time. It is also important to sit still and remain calm. You do not want to help the snake’s venom circulate.
Once the emergency services have been contacted, do nothing but wait. Do not attempt to suck out the venom. This can transfer the venom to your mouth. It is also important to know that cutting off the bitten part will cause much more harm than good.
When are Georgia’s Copperheads Most Active?
Copperheads in Georgia love to shelter from the sun’s heat. They are more active in the late afternoons and evenings. They are known to hibernate through winter and emerge in warmer weather.
Fun Facts about Copperheads in Georgia
- Young copperheads have yellow-tipped tails. According to researchers, this helps them attract or lure prey such as frogs, grubs, and other small insects.
- Statistics show that copperheads bite more people in the USA than any other snake. The United States sees an estimated 2,920 bite victims each year.
- Copperheads can live up to 18 years.
- According to many opinions, copperheads smell a bit like cucumbers. However, it is important to note that this is purely subjective as cucumbers have a pleasant smell, more often than not.
- Although copperheads live solitary lives, they pair to mate twice yearly.
- Female copperheads sometimes battle potential mates. They are known to reject mates that lose. Copperheads, like most snakes, hardly compete again after losing once.
- Male copperheads often produce pheromones that make their female mates unattractive to other male copperheads after mating. If a female copperhead mates in the fall, she will store the sperm in her body till after hibernation.
- When spotted, copperheads remain entirely still to avoid being seen. They often attempt to escape before biting.
Other Venomous Snakes Found in Georgia
- Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus): Cottonmouths are semi-aquatic snakes. They are found in several parts of West Atlanta.
- Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus adamanteus): In Georgia, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes which are one of the most venomous pit vipers are found south of Coastal Plain’s Fall Line.
- Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus): Georgia is known to have timber rattlesnakes (also known as canebrake rattlesnakes). They are found in most parts of the state.
- Pygmy rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius): Also known as ground rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlesnakes are found in Georgia, specifically in its central, northwestern, and northeastern areas.
- Coral snakes: Coral snakes are beautiful fossorial snakes known for being elusive and brightly colored. They can be found in Georgia’s coastal plain.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jeff W. Jarrett/Shutterstock.com
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