Snakes That Look Like Copperheads?

First, we’ll take a look at Eastern Copperheads and point out their most identifying characteristics. Copperheads are born alive and with the exception of the tail tip, they are colored and patterned the same as adults. The following four photographs are of baby/juvenile Eastern Copperheads. Note the sulfur yellow colored tail tip. The yellow tail tip is used as a lure for frogs, lizards and other prey items. As the snake ages the bright tail tip fades. The only other Virginia snake with a bright yellowish to yellowish green tail tip is the venomous eastern cottonmouth.

All harmless snakes in Virginia have round pupils and lack the heat sensing pits. Another characteristic of all Virginia’s venomous snakes is the single row of scales on the underside of the tail after the anal plate (vent).

Around late August to mid October depending on the temperatures, Eastern Ratsnakes look for a nice warm place to wait out the upcoming winter. Juvenile Northern Black Racers usually do not seek winter refuge in human occupied dwellings. This is completely opposite of the pattern found on the copperhead (wide on the sides and narrow near the back bone).

Some adult Northern Watersnakes retain a strong, distinct juvenile pattern while others become a uniformed brown. In an effort to ward off predators these snakes will puff-up, hiss loudly, spread their neck and strike with the mouth closed. Eastern hognose snakes prefer sandy soil and primarily feed on toads.

Venomous Eastern CopperheadHarmless Red CornsnakeEastern Copperhead vs. Northern Mole Kingsnake Juvenile Northern Mole Kingsnakes have a strong pattern that usually, but not always fades to a uniformed brown as the snake ages. Northern Mole Kingsnakes are seldom seen out in the open and are general found under surface cover (plywood, tin, flat rocks, etc..).

What snake gets mistaken for a copperhead?

Eastern Ratsnake (A.K.A. Blackrat Snake) The most common snake misidentified as a copperhead is the harmless juvenile Eastern Ratsnake (formerly called the blackrat snake). The Eastern Ratsnake starts life with a strong pattern of gray or brown blotches on a pale gray background.

How can you tell if a corn snake is a copperhead?

On top, the snakes can have a brown or coppery body with brown or reddish-brown patches, though the patches on the copperhead are somewhat hourglass-shaped, and the patches on the corn snake tend to have black margins. Its ventral side resembles a black and white checkerboard.

Are there different types of copperhead snakes?

There are five subspecies of copperhead distributed according to geographic range: the northern, northwestern, southern and two southwestern subspecies. According to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, the northern copperhead has by far the largest range, from Alabama to Massachusetts and Illinois.

How do you tell the difference between a copperhead and a milk snake?

Copperhead snakes are usually a pale-tan to pinkish-tan color that darkens towards the middle of the snake. Milk snakes are a noticeably brighter pinkish-red color. Look at the scale pattern. Copperhead snakes have 10 to 18 crossbands (stripes) that are pale-tan to pinkish-tan in color.

There are 3,000 species of snakes in the world, so it stands to reason that there might be a few not too far from your own backyard. This is no reason to panic, though! Of the 3,000 globally, only about 600 are poisonous, and only about 200 can significantly harm a human.

This evolutionary tactic makes harmless snakes appear more dangerous in order to protect them from predators. Even if you think youve encountered a harmless snake (thats only imitating a dangerous one), its best to keep a safe distance unless you’re absolutely sure.

In the Southeast, venomous Coral Snakes have a distinct red, yellow, and black banding that wards off potential predators. They almost never bite humans, and can be found wherever frogs and other amphibians are, as they are the Eastern Hognoses main source of food.

Copperheads are, unsurprisingly, a coppery color. Sometimes scientists get tired, I think, and just give up on all those fancy names. The ground, or main body color, ranges from a pinkish tan (read: copper) to a pale tan (not much variety, not even in the morphs or subspecies). The belly is usually the same color as the body, though it is sometimes a lighter shade.

These crossbands only ever span the back of the snake, and never extend all the way down to their ventral (belly) side. They are a pale brown color (typically) in the center, and grow darker around the outside, ending in a black border running the perimeter of the crossband.

The shape of a typical copperhead crossband is reminiscent of an hourglass, or maybe two Hersheys Kisses touching. In juvenile copperhead snakes, there are more crossbands at the tail, about seven to nine of them, and the tip of the tale is yellow. The young snakes use this brightly colored tail to lure lizards, insects, and frogs to join them for dinner.

In all this space, copperhead snakes like to spread out and can be found in quite a wide variety of environments. They like to hang around rocky outcroppings and ledges, as those types of places provide lots of little crevices to hide in. And in the most humid sections, theyve been known to make their homes in low lying, swampy areas (think Illinois).

Copperhead snakes are abnormal when it comes to the subject of other pit vipers (a family to which they belong). And even then, they, more commonly than any other pit viper, will often deliver a dry bite that only releases a small amount of venom. They like to position themselves in a promising place and sit, stock still, waiting to ambush the next meal that walks by.

I certainly dont want to take the time to test that out first hand, but if you ever have a solid answer, feel free to get in touch. Give me some Trader Joes dark chocolate, and Ill ignore any snake for as long as it takes me to consume my entire caloric content for the day in one sitting.) Maybe the copperhead is malnourished and skinnier, or maybe the corn snake just has an unusual triangular head.

Read this article that we wrote where we list 10 pros and cons of having a corn snake as a pet. The patterns on juvenile black racer snakes will be thick splotches that only cover their back and do not extend down their flanks like the crossbands on copperheads. The only people who are really going to know at first glance are archaeologists or other artifact enthusiasts, maybe doctors who treat tetanus, and those people who always get the Autumn catalogs from Urban Outfitters (seriously, my mom can tell the difference between inky black and ebony black, its insane, and more than a little impressive).

Mimicry, just a very fancy word for being a copycat, is a defensive tactic often employed by nonvenomous animals. Youre going to need to get really good at being a copycat if youre going to successfully fulfill your role as chief annoyer of the older kids.

Copperheads are a venomous pit-viper native to North America. In fact, they are one of the most common venomous snakes in many states where venomous snakes are found. Copperheads tend to have hourglass shaped figures along their back and their scales come in shades of browns, blacks, and rust colored oranges. In this article well look at some snakes that look at Copperheads.

In any case though, if you believe youve found a venomous snake the most important thing you can do is give it distance. Photo by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr | Public Domain Scientific name: Nerodia sipedon Average adult length: 2-4 ft Distribution: Common Water Snakes are found near freshwater bodies throughout eastern and central North America Venomous: No

This is somewhat unfortunate for Common Water Snakes because oftentimes people will kill Copperheads out of fear, which can lead to the unnecessary killing of Common Water Snakes when people misidentify them. Scientific name: Pantherophis guttatus Average adult length : 2-6 ft Distribution: Found through the Southeastern and Central United States Venomous: No This coloration is probably the only thing that makes them look like a Copperhead however, as Corn Snakes have a very different shaped head and body.

image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0 Scientific name: Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum Average adult length: 2-3 ft Distribution: The Eastern Kingsnake can be found in its northern range from Maine to Canada and in its southern range from North Carolina to Alabama Venomous: No The Eastern Milksnake is a docile, harmless snake that just happens to resemble the venomous Copperhead. The Eastern Milksnake tends to be more of a brilliant red than the Copperhead, but does share that similar saddleback pattern, leading for some people to misidentify it.

Eastern Hognose | credit: Hunter Desportes | Flickr | CC BY 2.0 Scientific name: Heterodon platirhinos Average adult length: 28 inches Distribution: From east-central Minnesota and Wisconsin all the way to southern Ontario in Canada. The Eastern Hognose is technically armed with venom, perfect for subduing small prey items, but they are harmless to humans. Diamond-backed Water Snake | pondhawk | Flickr | CC BY 2.0 Scientific name: Nerodia rhombifer Average adult length: 2.5-4 ft Distribution: Central United States to Northern Mexico Venomous: No

Diamondback Water Snakes will sit on branches overhanging streams and ponds to hunt for fish or other unlucky prey items. Scientific name: Nerodia fasciata Average adult length: 2-3.5 ft Distribution: The Banded Water Snake is found as far north as Indiana and as far south as Louisiana, spreading eastward to Florida. Their coloration is very similar to most Copperheads, with hues of oranges, browns and reds.

Black Racer | credit: pondhawk | Flickr | CC BY 2.0 Scientific name: Coluber constrictor Average adult length: 2-5 ft (Juvenile length: 9-13 in) Distribution: Black Racers are widely distributed throughout the United States east of the Rocky Mountains Venomous : No Scientific name: Pantherophis obsoletus Average adult length: 3 6 ft Distribution: Eastern and Southeastern United States. Its always advisable to get familiar with your local wildlife, especially when you live in an area with venomous or other potentially dangerous animals.

The number of snakes on this list that are non-venomous but look like the venomous Copperhead speaks to the importance of being able to identify wildlife.

Copperheads and Similar Looking Harmless Species

First, we’ll take a look at Eastern Copperheads and point out their most identifying characteristics. Copperheads are born alive and with the exception of the tail tip, they are colored and patterned the same as adults. The following four photographs are of baby/juvenile Eastern Copperheads. Note the sulfur yellow colored tail tip. The yellow tail tip is used as a lure for frogs, lizards and other prey items. As the snake ages the bright tail tip fades. The only other Virginia snake with a bright yellowish to yellowish green tail tip is the venomous eastern cottonmouth.* Click on a thumbnail to see a larger versionEastern Copperheads have dark colored crossbands that are for the most part shaped like an hourglass. Usually some of the crossbands are broken and do not connect.The Eastern Copperhead is a pit-viper, as are all three of Virginia’s venomous snake species (Eastern Copperhead, eastern cottonmouth and timber rattlesnake). The “pit” in pit-viper refers to the heating sensing pit located between the eye and the nostrils on the snake’s head. In addition to the heat sensing pit all three venomous snakes in Virginia have vertical pupils. All harmless snakes in Virginia have round pupils and lack the heat sensing pits. Another characteristic of all Virginia’s venomous snakes is the single row of scales on the underside of the tail after the anal plate (vent).While close inspection of a snake’s face and/or its bum is a definitive way to distinguish a venomous snake from a harmless species, it requires one to get dangerously close to a potently dangerous animal. It is far better to learn the pattern and coloration of a few snakes so that a specimen may be identified from a safe distance.

Eastern Copperhead vs. Northern Black Racer

Like the Eastern Ratsnake, black racers are also born with a blotched pattern. However, unlike the Eastern Ratsnake that may retain the juvenile pattern for several years, the pattern of the Northern Black Racer usually fades to a uniformed black within the first two years of life. Juvenile Northern Black Racers usually do not seek winter refuge in human occupied dwellings. Northern Black Racers are usually one of the first snakes to become active when spring arrives.

Eastern Copperhead vs. Northern Watersnake

Juvenile and subadult Northern Watersnakes have a pattern that can vary greatly in color, from dark grayish to a reddish brown. The color of some individuals watersnakes can come close to that of some copperheads, however the pattern on the Northern Watersnake is always narrow on the sides and wide near the backbone. This is completely opposite of the pattern found on the copperhead (wide on the sides and narrow near the back bone). Some adult Northern Watersnakes retain a strong, distinct juvenile pattern while others become a uniformed brown. As the name implies, the Northern Watersnake is usually found in close proximity to water.

Eastern Copperhead vs. Eastern Milksnake

The pattern of the Eastern Milksnake is fairly consistent in Virginia, however the intensity of the colors can vary quite a bit. Usually the blotches across the back are outlined in black. Eastern Milksnakes are found state wide, but are more abundant in the mountainous regions.

Eastern Copperhead vs. Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes are the great actors of the snake world. In an effort to ward off predators these snakes will puff-up, hiss loudly, spread their neck and strike with the mouth closed. If all else fails the hognose snake will roll over and play dead. Found state wide the pattern and coloration of these snake can vary greatly. Eastern hognose snakes prefer sandy soil and primarily feed on toads.The pattern of the eastern hog-nosed snake can vary greatly

Eastern Copperhead vs. Red Cornsnake

The Red Cornsnake also known as the red ratsnake is usually more brightly colored and and has a more reddish hue than that of the copperhead. The pattern of the Red Cornsnake is a blotch that does not extend down the sides to the ground. Unlike the juvenile pattern of the Eastern Ratsnake that fades as the snake ages, the pattern of the Red Cornsnake remains distinct regardless of age.

What Copperheads Do Look Like

We’re going to go over the basic looks, characteristics, andThey are covered in crossbands.Often times, these crossbands will be split right down the middle, and alternated, almost like the laces on your tennis shoes.The shape of a typical copperhead crossband is reminiscent of an hourglass, or maybe two Hershey’s Kisses touching. The latter image is helpful if you’re food minded, like me.In between the crossbands, and all along both flanks, near the belly, are dark brown, smallish spots. There are about ten to eighteen crossbands on each copperhead snake, but the number of spots varies from case to case.The crossbands range in width from two scales wide at the top of the back to as many as six to ten scales wide on the sides of the body. At the base of the tail, there are from one to three- although usually, it’s just two- solid brown crossbands about 2 scales wide. The tip of the tail is gray.In juvenile copperhead snakes, there are more crossbands at the tail, about seven to nine of them, and the tip of the tale is yellow. This pattern fades as they age. The young snakes use this brightly colored tail to lure lizards, insects, and frogs to join them for dinner. This is called caudal luring, and perfectly toes the line between a nifty skill and a nasty skill.
Basically, from an aerial view, a copperhead snake’s head looks so much like a triangle. Phineas (though perhaps not his brother Ferb) would be crazy jealous.Copperheads are the color they are because it helps them camouflage almost perfectly into their habitat.They are found in 28 states, nearly covering every letter in the alphabet, from Oklahoma all the way to New York in one direction and Florida in the other direction. Then the habitat extends all the way down to Mexico in Chihuahua and Coahuila.In all this space, copperhead snakes like to spread out and can be found in quite a wide variety of environments. Mostly, especially in the Northern part of the Americas, they tend to stick to deciduous forests and other mixed woodlands and forests.More to the south, closer to Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico, copperhead snakes will live in coniferous forests. And in the most humid sections, they’ve been known to make their homes in low lying, swampy areas (think Illinois). They like to stay close to a water source.Copperhead snakes are abnormal when it comes to the subject of other pit vipers (a family to which they belong). Most pit vipers, and really, most snakes in general, turn tail and run–er, slither–away at the first sight of danger.Can you really blame them? Can you look me in the eye and tell me with positive assurance that you could hold your ground as a sixty-foot tall monster came barreling towards you? I doubt it. Copperheads, however, can do just that. (Their monsters are to scale, of course.)
Remember that camouflage thing we mentioned a few paragraphs ago? The colors they sport blend in almost perfectly with the ground common to the places they live.This attitude has pros and cons attached to it. On one hand, if they’re frozen, they can’t exactly lash out and bite you for fear of exposing themselves, can they?But on the other, since you probably won’t notice them, you have a much higher chance of accidentally stepping over or even right onto them. That being said, copperheads usually only bite in the event of physical contact. And even then,When they hunt, copperhead snakes are more of a “sit and wait” type than a “come and take” type. They like to position themselves in a promising place and sit, stock still, waiting to ambush the next meal that walks by.They will actively chase down cicadas and caterpillars. Maybe those particular insects are much tastier and worth the effort. I certainly don’t want to take the time to test that out first hand, but if you ever have a solid answer, feel free to get in touch.

Snake Mistake No. 1: Corn Snakes

Now that you know what an actual copperhead looks like, you can start telling the differences between it and whatever other snakes you come across.The most common mistaken identity is a corn snake.Aside from the color, corn snakes do have crossbands, just like copperheads, but their cross-bands are straighter and shaped less like the hourglass shape of the copperhead crossband.If you can’t see any Hershey’s Kisses shapes, then you’re good. Maybe just remember it like this: Chocolate is a guilty pleasure, so only the guilty (venomous) snakes have them. I don’t know if that helped you, but it certainly helped me. (As I said, I’m food-minded. Give me some Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, and I’ll ignore any snake for as long as it takes me to consume my entire caloric content for the day in one sitting.)The body of a corn snake is also thinner in general.Maybe the copperhead is malnourished and skinnier, or maybe the corn snake just has an unusual triangular head. So I would say just stick to the coloring. And of course, if you’re still not sure after that, just avoid the snake.Thinking about buying a corn snake? Read this article that we wrote where we list 10 pros and cons of having a corn snake as a pet.

Snake Mistake No. 2: Northern Water Snake

The next most common snake to be confused with a copperhead snake is a northern water snake. Prepare to be enlightened.One major identification factor: WIdentification number two: the patterns are (once again) different. Remember those Hershey’s Kiss-shaped bands? I’m going to keep coming back to those because:1) I really do love chocolate more than the average person really ever should and,2) the copperhead’s distinct pattern is going to be a sure bet in distinguishing them from most other snakes. Water snakes have the opposite of Hershey’s Kiss bands.
Water snakes differ immensely from location to location, growing to different lengths and sporting different colors.

Snake Mistake No. 3: Hognose Snakes

No, I’m not listing the differences between pigs and copperheads, even though I would love to, seeing as that would be the easiest article I would ever write.
Even snake experts, or herpetologists as they’re called in their world, have a hard time identifying hognose snakes. This variety is part of what attributes to the hognose snakes’ ability to be confused with a copperhead, a snake that really shouldn’t look anything like a hognose snake.Another attributing factor is the fact thatWith the same habitat come some of the same behaviors and camouflages, making it even more difficult to tell the difference. If both snakes are so common, it is only logical that it would be common to confuse the two.Their namesake is actually the easiest way to set hognose snakes apart from copperhead snakes. They will try and puff out their necks when threatened, making their head look more triangular.However, even with this added width, they can never quite make the cut, and you will be able to tell the difference between the truly triangular head of the copperhead snake and the head of a pretending hognose snake. Hognose snakes also glaringly lack the spots along their flanks that copperheads have.

Snake Mistake No. 4: Black Racer Snake

This snake I think has the coolest name in the entire history of naming snakes ever.
And let’s be honest, you’re not typically in the mood for a second, closer look at a snake that you think might be poisonous.Funnily enough, this change only makes sure that they are often confused with water moccasin snakes, a completely different venomous snake.The patterns on juvenile black racer snakes will be thick splotches that only cover their back and do not extend down their flanks like the crossbands on copperheads.

Snake Mistake No. 5: Mole King Snakes

I purposely saved the snake carrying the title of King for the end of the list. Can’t let them get too full of themselves, you know?Color-wise, mole kingsnakes are more of a reddish brown than a rusty brown, which I know is a ridiculous distinction to expect anyone to make. The only people who are really going to know at first glance are archaeologists or other artifact enthusiasts, maybe doctors who treat tetanus, and those people who always get the Autumn catalogs from Urban Outfitters (seriously, my mom can tell the difference between inky black and ebony black, it’s insane, and more than a little impressive).But, the point still stands, that slight color variation is one of the ways to tell the difference between a snake that will kill you, and a snake that won’t. Good luck!Okay, I kid, I apologize. There are a few other ways to distinguish the two.

Copperhead Mimicry

At first, I thought it was a little strange that so many snakes could get confused with copperhead snakes. I mean, after all, aren’t species supposed to be different? That’s why they’re split up, isn’t it?
If you want predators to avoid you, all you have to do is look like a dangerous animal that those predators want to avoid. Then you’re home free!So really, the reason you’re going to get the heebee-jeebees every time you see a snake that looks poisonous is all due to some natural copycat tactics. All you little siblings, take note. You’re going to need to get really good at being a copycat if you’re going to successfully fulfill your role as chief annoyer of the older kids.

1. Common Watersnake

Some of these snakes to make the list may share the patterns, colors, or both with Copperheads which can lead people that are unfamiliar with snakes to misidentify them. Remember, the worst is usually assumed about a snake.In any case though, if you believe you’ve found a venomous snake the most important thing you can do is give it distance.

2. Corn Snake

Corn Snakes come in several color variations, but one of their color variations of rust colored oranges and reds together can give them a similar appearance to the venomous Copperhead.This coloration is probably the only thing that makes them look like a Copperhead however, as Corn Snakes have a very different shaped head and body. But for those unfamiliar with snakes, a Corn Snake may be indistinguishable to the Copperhead.

3. Eastern Milk Snake

The Eastern Milksnake is a docile, harmless snake that just happens to resemble the venomous Copperhead. The Eastern Milksnake tends to be more of a brilliant red than the Copperhead, but does share that similar saddleback pattern, leading for some people to misidentify it.

4. Eastern Hognose

The Eastern Hognose is technically armed with venom, perfect for subduing small prey items, but they are harmless to humans. Some individuals can share similar coloration with Copperheads and tend to have that banded patterning, much like Copperheads.Eastern Hognoses get their name from their pig-like snout. When threatened, Hognose snakes may flatter their body, giving them a false-hood, almost like a cobra. If this defense display doesn’t work, then Hognoses may roll over and play dead!

5. Diamondback Water Snake

The Diamondback Watersnake is commonly found within its range, and as you could probably imagine from the name, they are commonly found near water bodies. Diamondback Water Snakes will sit on branches overhanging streams and ponds to hunt for fish or other unlucky prey items.The patterning of the Diamondback Watersnake can resemble the reticulated pattern of the Copperhead.

6. Banded Water Snake

Another watersnake on the list, the Banded Watersnake is a harmless snake that really tends to resemble the venomous Copperhead. Their coloration is very similar to most Copperheads, with hues of oranges, browns and reds. Not only that, but their patterning is similar to Copperheads causing confusion for people that come across them. But like many of the snakes on the list, these snakes are harmless and tend to be very docile.

7. Black Racers

This snake makes the list of snakes that can look like Copperheads, but with an exception. Black Racers are in fact Black, and most of the time patternless. However, juvenile or young Black Racers look entirely different from adults and it is the juvenile Black Racer that can resemble a Copperhead.Juvenile Black Racers are obviously smaller than adults, but they also have reddish-brown markings down their back, which to a snake novice could look similar to markings of a Copperhead.