Copperhead snake or “Highland Moccasin” is a reptile from the family Crotalidae and belonging to the genus Agkistrodon. This genus also features Cottonmouth snake which is also commonly referred to as the “Water Moccasin“. This family of snakes is commonly referred to as Pit viper snakes. This is because of the classic pit they have between their eye and nose. This pit is used as a heat sensor to hunt out prey with very low visibility. They are characterized by elliptical eye pupils, weakly keeled dorsal scales and single anal scale. An adult copperheads’ size may range from anything between 23 inches and 43 inches in length.
For this article we’ll cover:
- Natural Range
- Sub Species
- Mating behavior
The snake is normally colorful with eye-catching patterns. Basically, their name originates from the head complexion that resembles the copper coloring. The back is normally tan though some appear pink with colored bands running across the sides and back. Similarly, infants copperhead snakes are colored like the adults. Apart from a few inches at the tail that are bright-yellow colored; its entire body has the same pattern and color. The snake commonly prey on birds, insects, amphibians, small rodents and other small snakes.
It can be found in almost all habitats be it; lowlands, hilltops, though it commonly features in waterways and streams. It is seldom to find it in forested regions. It mostly habits areas with vegetation such as vines. Nonetheless, it is also commonly found in localities with debris. This complements its coloration and patterning that attributes a perfect camouflage to the forest floor and places with dead leaves. The camouflage serves two purposes of safety from the predators and making it unnoticeable from the prey for a perfect strike.
As a way of safety, it freezes in its threat zones and assumes a motionless stunt for the danger to pass by. This has threatened its population especially during summers whey they are common in car traffics. It is evident that most have perished as they freeze to approaching vehicles. In most instances, the snake does not bite humans not until human being trespasses its boundary by grasping it, stepping on it or approaching it too closely. When it is distressed, it makes rapid vibrations by its tail. The copperheads are abundant and more than often feature in the immediate environs where people live. This is the reason for the common venomous copperhead bites.
It is usually common throughout the central and eastern United States. This ranges from Kansas to Connecticut to and western Texas to Florida. There are five sub-species that are spread to broad geographical range. These include the southern, southwestern, northern and northwestern regions. However, the southwestern region has been subdivided into two sub regions to make a total of five. Depending on the region that the reptile is found, there is a slight and sometimes unnoticeable variation to the other.
Typically, their mating behavior is shaped by a number of factors. Usually, males are known to be involved in a fighting contest. This will determine which male to mate with the females. Most remarkably, losing males are known to back down and never to contest again.
The aspect of positive outcome when a male wins will mean that there will be a translation of the behavior and genes to the next generation. Mating fights are therefore very vital in selective pressures. These snakes mate in the late spring. However, this is also possible at the early fall. This is because ovulation normally takes place during this time. The females’ bodies have the capability of storing sperms from male and even different males for a relatively long periods. They can equally postpone the eggs’ fertilization to a later time.
Since these snakes exhibit a life bearing reproduction also known as ovoviviparous reproduction, the females normally give birth in the fall. The size of the females usually is an equal indication of the number of offspring that it can give birth to. Large bodied females are known to give birth to more offspring than the small bodied. Basically, a female may give birth of one to thirteen young ones. However, there are rare a case of a female with fourteen offspring. Birth is normally around an established hibernation burrow.
The young are normally covered by a thin membrane at the time of birth. However, they emerge out of it as quickly as possible. The young are normally born seven to eleven inches and are readily fanged and have venom.