Discover the Largest Copperhead Snake Ever Recorded

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Updated: July 18, 2022
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Key Points

  • Copperhead snakes are found in the southeastern and northeastern U.S.
  • These snakes are one of the most common venomous species in North America.
  • The largest copperhead exceeded normal ranges of 1-3 ft.

Copperhead snakes are one of the most common venomous snakes in North America. They are found throughout the southeastern and northeastern United States (except for southern Georgia and most of Florida). There are five subspecies of copperheads, with most being around 2-3 feet long, about the length of a yardstick. But how big is the largest copperhead ever recorded? Let’s find out!

What are copperhead snakes?

The Copperhead’s scales are keeled, and their eyes have vertical pupils that make them resemble cat’s eyes.
Copperheads have a copper-colored head and tan to copper-colored body with dark brown hourglass markings.

Creeping Things/Shutterstock.com

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Copperhead snakes are among the four main venomous snakes found in the United States. The others are cottonmouths, coral snakes, and a number of rattlesnake species. Copperheads in North America are broken down into five subspecies with slightly different coloration and markings, but they are all similar in size. You may hear about Australian copperheads and Indian copperheads, but those are unrelated to North American copperheads and refer to the coloration of those snakes. Copperheads get their name from the copper color of their head, which stands out from their tan to copper base color and dark brown markings. The markings are in an hourglass shape, with the thinnest part of the hourglass along the center of their backs.

How big are copperheads?

Here is the list of the sizes by subspecies:

Northern: 2-3 feet (24-36 inches)

Southern: 2-3 feet (24-36 inches)

Broad Banded: 1 ½ – 3 feet (20-36 inches)

Trans-Pecos: 1 ½ -3 feet (20-36 inches)

Osage: 1 ½ – 3 feet (20-30 inches)

Where do copperheads live?

Copperheads live in central and southeastern United States and some parts of northern Mexico. They do not live on the west coast or in any of the states on the northern border with Canada.

Northern Copperhead: has the largest range of all the copperheads, overlaps with all the other copperheads, found in central and southern US, as far south as Georgia with some spillover into the panhandle of Florida, north the southern New England states, and west to Texas and Nebraska.

Southern Copperhead: found in central and southern US, as far south as Georgia, north to Massachusetts, and west to Texas. Southern copperheads are typically larger than northern copperheads.

Broad Banded Copperhead: only found along the southern border of Kansas, the southern border of Oklahoma, and in central Texas.

Trans-Pecos Copperhead: only found in the far west of Texas (called the Trans-Pecos region) and northeastern Mexico.

Osage Copperhead: only found in the central states, mostly in Missouri and eastern Kansas.

A photo of a very large copperhead was posted on Facebook with the story of a man, Chase Curtis, who found two copperheads behind his house. One of the snakes got away to hide under a woodpile, but he killed the other one and displayed it for all to see. It measured 40 inches long (3 feet, 4 inches). However, that is not the largest copperhead ever recorded.

What is the largest copperhead ever recorded?

Weakest animals copperhead snake
A northern copperhead is the largest copperhead ever recorded, at 4 feet and 5 inches long!

The largest copperhead ever recorded was 4 feet and 5 inches long! According to the University of Georgia Extention, this is the largest copperhead. This one was a northern copperhead. The largest southern copperhead was recorded at just an inch shorter, at 4 feet and 4 inches long.

How does that compare to the largest snake in America?

Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) lyin in grass. The Eastern Indigo Snake is the longest snake in America.
The eastern indigo snake is the longest snake in America, reaching 8 1/2 feet long.

Patrick K. Campbell/Shutterstock.com

The largest native snake in the United States is the eastern indigo snake. These long blue-black snakes can reach 8 ½ feet long. Obviously, no snake would make a particularly good hockey goalie, but these snakes are wider than a regulation hockey net, which is 72 inches wide!

The largest non-native (invasive) snakes in the United States are the Burmese python and green anaconda. They are listed together because they have a similar story. Both are found only in the southernmost tip of Florida, in the Everglades. While there is a breeding population of Burmese pythons, there are only a very few green anacondas. They are not from here but were accidentally introduced by people who released them as pets or by improperly secured pets escaping. The tropical environment makes a suitable home for these snakes, and without any real predators, Burmese pythons have become a big problem. Let’s take a look at how big they are:

  • Burmese Pythons:  largest one recorded in the US was 18 feet 10 inches long.
  • Green Anacondas: green anacondas are the largest snakes in the world and can reach 18-22 feet long.

What is the largest venomous snake in the United States?

Large eastern diamondback rattlesnake
Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes have a pattern that often fades towards their tail.

Chase D’animulls/Shutterstock.com

The largest venomous snake in the US is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. These are also one of the most venomous in the US. They can reach 8 feet long!

How does that compare to the largest snake in the world?

Biggest Snakes: The Reticulated Python
Reticulated pythons are one of the largest snakes in the world.

Opayaza12/Shutterstock.com

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest snake ever recorded was a reticulated python from Celebes, Indonesia, in 1912. The record still holds. That snake was 32 feet 9 ½ inches long! It would have made a fine soccer goalie with a regulation soccer goal being 24 feet wide.

Copperhead Habitats

Forested, natural areas cover the southeastern and northeastern part of the United States, creating the perfect environments for copperheads under fallen leaves and other tree debris in the humid climate. These snakes also love large pastures and open fields, also abundant in these regions. Copperheads make their homes in logs, near rivers, in urban settings, in rural settings, pretty much anywhere they find suitable. So, if you live in this part of the country, keep an eye out in your wood piles, under tarps, in your garage, and other places these critters may hide.

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness and suggesting actions we can all do to help wildlife. As a former elementary school teacher I have a love for learning and teaching. My goal is to get kids fired-up about animals. Learning about the animals we share this earth with makes life better. When I am not writing I am living the good life with my husband and six kids (we are down to two that are still at home...and our giant labradoodle, Tango!).