Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)
Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
Photo of Eastern Copperhead courtesy of Linh Phu
4 - 36 inches. Record - 53 inches.
- A heavy-bodied snake with a tan to coppery-red head and hourglass pattern crossbands on its pinkish tan to dark brown back.
- The crossbands are chestnut to dark brown. A triangular and flattened head with facial “pits” between each eye and nostril.
- Vertically slit pupil.
- Weakly keeled scales.
- Young have a sulfur yellow tail they flick to lure skinks and other smaller animals.
Photo of camouflaged Eastern Copperhead
courtesy of William Harbold
Juvenile Copperhead by Andrew Hoffman, Flickr CC by NC 2.0.
Note: yellow tail.
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 Eastern Copperhead
courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Distribution in Maryland:
Eastern Copperheads are found throughout Maryland with the exception of several counties on the Eastern Shore.