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There are many copper snake look-alikes that are completely harmless.
The Copperhead snake probably has the most misinformation spread around than any other creature in the US. However, very few people know the truth about these devastating snakes and how to tell them apart from Copperhead snake look-alikes..
Countless harmless snakes are killed every year out of fear of getting bitten by the Copperhead snake. Copperhead snakes are snakes that are most likely to bite you. However, they typically don’t kill healthy adults.
Now, with a few tips, you will know the difference between a copperhead snake and copperhead snake look-alikes. I hope that you’ll know how to identify which snakes are and aren’t harmful.
Most snakes are used to blending in, and five snakes blend in similarly with similar features. The Copperhead snakes look-alikes are the Corn snake, the Black Racer snake, Mole Kingsnake, Eastern Hognose snake, and the Northern Watersnake.
So, now in this article, I will go through how to identify the Copperhead snake and their look-alikes.
Let’s jump right in.
Features of the Copperhead snake
Now, we’re going to cover the characteristics of Copperhead snakes like physical features and behaviors. This will give you an idea of a snake you should avoid – and if you fail to avoid them, that’s what I’ll cover in Copperhead snake FAQs.
One more thing, snakes, like humans, aren’t all the same – some of the snakes are darker, some are lighter, and others don’t have the common eye or tail type. So, take these features with a grain of salt – if a snake has most of these, they are a copperhead.
Notable Details: Copperhead snakes are usually copper in color. However, they can range from light beige to very dark brown colors – similar to humans. The belly is the same color as the body.
However, there are cases where the belly is slightly lighter. Copperhead snakes have crossbands – darker stripes that make a crossing pattern. These patterns never touch the belly and stay on their backs instead. There are ten to eighteen crossbands for the average adult Copperhead.
The average adult Copperhead is 0.6-0.9 cm or 2-3 feet. They can weigh 1/2 a pound to 3/4 of a pound. The shape of the body is thick and stout.
Now, there is something interesting about the Copperhead; they have camouflaging abilities! The camouflage is a defensive and attacking mechanism. When curled up, they resemble a pile of leaves.
They also have hourglass-like patterns – which is important to note.
Another important thing to note is that when you come across a baby Copperhead, they are much more dangerous than adults because they don’t know how much venom to disperse. So, you could die on the spot if a baby Copperhead bites you.
Head: The head of the Copperhead has a triangle-shaped head – or an arrow-shaped head. These wider parts of the head allow for space for the snake’s fangs and venom glands. This makes them a pit viper snake!
Eyes: The eye pupil shape is something that varies from animal to animal. Copperheads have yellow outsides of the eyes and black, skinny pupils – similar to those of a cat.
As a warning, you shouldn’t go closer to the snake to identify their eyes because that’s dangerous. Most of the other nonvenomous snakes have round, human-like pupils that sometimes cover the whole eye.
Tail: Now, this is a very distinct feature that the Copperhead snake has, so you can know what the Copperhead snake look-alikes are.
They have bright yellow tails! They have bright yellow tails for luring their prey in to eat. However, in rare cases, some will have dark brown tails.
Behavior: Copperheads are not social. They usually hunt alone and hibernate alone as well.
If they feel threatened, then they will emit a weird “cucumber” scent, then if they feel more threatened, they will rattle their tail like a rattlesnake, and if you really scare it, they will flare their neck and sharp teeth at you, and if you still don’t run, they will bite you.
Like most snakes, they also run away if they don’t have anything to protect.
Different Features in Copperhead Snake Look-Alikes
Copperhead Vs. Corn snake: A lot of people have hard times telling tiny color differences – especially the colorblind. However, it is important to tell the difference between a harmless and harmful snake.
The corn snake is a very brightly colored snake that is “redder” than the copperhead. While the back pattern of a copperhead at first glance is similar, studies show there’s no hourglass in shape at all on these snakes.
The patterns on a corn snake are like an hourglass with a thin middle. Now, Copperhead snakes typically have thicker bodies compared to your average corn snake; however, this should be taken with a grain of salt.
Corn snakes can be found in a wide array of areas and have a larger habitat than Copperheads. They are found throughout the United States.
Essentially, Corn snakes are redder. They have narrower heads, different patterns, no yellow tail or eyes, and usually a thicker body
Copperhead Vs. Black Racer snake: Most black racers are a solid black color, hence the name. This makes them virtually impossible to mistake for a copperhead. However, they might get them mistaken for a Water Moccasin snake. Some of the snakes are more of a green, brown, or even copper type color as baby Black Racers.
As baby snakes, they have blotched hourglass patterns, which goes away as black racers age. However, some may keep it for several more years. It is always important to note that when looking at smaller copperheads, the black racer lookalike should be easy to tell apart because the Copperheads have a bright yellow tail that would make it easy to spot.
Even as a baby snake, Copperheads have a triangular arrow-head shaped head, and Black Racers have black eyes, while Copperheads usually have yellow eyes with thin black pupils.
Essentially, Black Racer snakes don’t have a bright yellow tail or eyes and have oval-shaped patterns.
Copperhead Vs. Mole Kingsnake: Mole Kingsnakes often starts off heavily patterned as babies. Like the Black Racers, those patterns fade as they get older and normally become a solid brown color.
There are several clear giveaways that can help you to tell these apart from the venomous Copperhead snake. First, the patterns on these snakes are very narrow in shape. They’re not hourglass-shaped. Instead, they are small ovals. Kingsnakes are more of a brownish color instead of copper.
These snakes have small black eyes and small narrow triangular heads. Copperheads, on the other hand, have thicker heads and yellow eyes.
Essentially, they have thin oval patterns, are browner, and don’t have a yellow tail or eyes.
Copperhead Vs. Eastern Hognose snake: The Eastern Hognose snake is known for being the “thespians of the reptile world” because they defend themselves by acting.
They are known especially for puffing out their necks to attempt to look big and intimidating and also hiss really loudly. These snakes will even roll over and play dead as a desperation play.
These snakes prefer sandy soil and mostly feeding on toads. They can often be mistaken for smaller or younger copperheads. That being said, even with the ones that look similar, a simple study of the black eyes, the spotty back pattern, and the neck/head should make it easy to tell the non-venomous hognose snake.
Essentially, the Eastern Hognose likes acting, the spotty pattern, and the black eyes – in rare cases yellow.
Copperhead Vs. Northern Watersnake: Northern water snakes are another species of harmless snakes that are commonly mistaken for the venomous copperhead. The colors and, to some extent, even the Northern Watersnake patterns can differ a lot from one location to another.
There are a few main differences to focus on. The first is the shape of the head. If you can’t tell where the neck ends, and the head begins, chances are it’s a water snake.
To add on, the Northern Watersnakes have almost the opposite patterns compared to Copperheads. They have a thicker part in the middle and a thinner part on the outer sides of its body.
Essentially, they have heads that blend in with their necks, the patterns are the opposites, and they don’t have a yellow tail or eyes.
Copperhead snake FAQs
If you encounter a Copperhead snake, what do you do?
You just run in the opposite direction. Don’t try to grab the snake to strike it, though.
What do you do if you get bitten by one?
First, don’t panic and don’t wipe the venom off. The paramedics have to diagnose which snake bit you because they have antidotes.
Next, apply pressure on the limb that you were bitten on until that limb is completely numb. Now, seek medical attention by calling for help. Finally, hold your body as still as possible so the venom doesn’t circulate.
How to avoid an injury if a Copperhead tries to bite you?
Simple – wear some snake guards or high boots. Coppersnakes are usually on the ground, so if you have snake guards or boots that cover the ankle and lower part of your leg, you should be fine.
In case you travel to one of the states listed above, you should definitely wear a snake guard. If you don’t have any – here are some amazing ones on Amazon.
Where do Copperhead Snakes live?
Copperheads live in the Northeast all the way to Connecticut. You can find some in Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and more. Copperheads like almost every single kind of environment.
Can Copperhead snakes kill you?
Most of the time, you don’t die if you get bitten. If you are a healthy adult – you probably won’t die unless a baby Copperhead bites you.
If you’re a healthy adult, then in almost any other circumstance, you will live. However, you may have some serious injuries after the bite.