Southern Copperhead

There are some very preliminary medical studies that have shown that copperhead venom may halt the growth of cancer cells in mice.

Southern Copperhead

Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix

Habitat: North America. Usually wooded areas where leaves, logs and other brush offer camouflage and shelter. (One of the most abundant venomous snakes found here in east Texas.)

Diet in the wild: 90% of diet consists of small rodents, but will eat birds, lizards and frogs.

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Mice

Size: 20-37 inches long; weighing 3½-12 ounces. Males are usually larger than females.

Family: All North American pit vipers give birth to live young and provide no parental care. A young copperhead has a yellow-green end of its tail which is thought to perhaps act as a lure for frogs and lizards.

Status: Least Concern

Did you know? This snake usually lies in wait and then ambushes its prey, except when feeding on insects, i.e. freshly molted cicadas, then it actively pursues its prey. The cryptic camouflage of the copperhead is not only used for ambushing prey, but also for eluding predators. When lying in leaf litter, a copperhead virtually vanishes. Remaining completely motionless, the copperhead is difficult to see. This contributes to many bites to people who step on them unknowingly. These bites are rarely fatal and the potency of the venom is actually the lowest of all the pit vipers. However, any venomous snake bite should be taken seriously and medical treatment should be sought.

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