Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)


Subfamily Crotalinae

Northern Copperhead

Common Name:

Northern Copperhead
and
Intergrade


Scientific Name:

Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen
and
Agkistrodon c. contortrix X mokasen

Photo of Northern Copperhead courtesy of Linh Phu

Photo of Northern Copperhead courtesy of Linh Phu


Size:
4 - 36 inches. Record - 53 inches.

Appearance:
  • In Maryland, both the Northern Copperhead and an intergrade between Northern and Southern Copperheads occur, the latter in the lower Eastern and Western Shores on the Coastal Plain.
  • A heavy-bodied snake with a tan to coppery-red head and hourglass pattern crossbands on its pinkish (Southern) tan to dark brown back.
  • The crossbands are chestnut to dark brown (and narrower in the intergrade). A triangular and flattened head with facial “pits” between each eye and nostril.
  • Vertically slit iris.
  • Weakly keeled scales.
  • Young have a sulfur yellow tail.

 

Photo of camouflaged Northern Copperhead - courtesy of William Harbold

Photo of camouflaged Northern Copperhead
courtesy of William Harbold


Habitats:

This is a snake of forests, old fields, swamps, dry sandy ridges adjacent to swamps, and agricultural fields adjacent to forests.


How to Find:

A relatively uncommon species on the coastal plain, but fairly common in forested rock outcrops of central and western Maryland. Their cryptic coloration makes them very hard to discern, even when you are looking right at them. Warning: this species is venomous! Do not attempt to capture. They will readily bite if provoked, and bites are extremely painful. Seek medical attention immediately if bitten.

 

Photo of Habitat for Northern Copperhead - courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

Photo of Habitat for Northern Copperhead
courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers


Distribution in Maryland:

The northern copperhead is found statewide while the intergrade is found on the lower Eastern Shore.​

 

Northern Copperhead - Distribution in Maryland