7 Snakes That Look Like Copperheads

You may have heard that copperheads are venomous snakes that live throughout the eastern and southeastern parts of the United States. If you live in or are visiting this area, you probably want to avoid these snakes. But did you know there are other types of snakes that look similar? And many of them are harmless. Read on to learn more about the snakes that look like copperheads.

Snakes That Look Like Copperheads

1. Milk Snakes

Milk snakes

Milk snakes are found throughout the eastern United States and Canada, including areas known for copperheads.

If you’ve never seen a copperhead, you might initially mistake a milk snake for one because of its alternating orange-and-white pattern. 

That said, milk snakes are generally smaller and thinner than copperheads, and despite the similarity in pattern, milk snakes are more brightly colored than copperheads. Copperheads tend to be alternating shades of lighter and darker brown.

What’s more, milk snakes are completely harmless. 

2. Water Snakes

species of water snakes

There are many different types of water snakes, and some of them can easily be mistaken for copperheads. Some of these include the common, diamondback, and banded water snakes.

These snakes all live in many of the same areas as copperheads. They tend to live close to bodies of water and will sometimes go swimming.

All three of these snakes have patterned bodies and similar colors as copperheads. That said, none have the distinctive hourglass or Hershey’s Kiss pattern as copperheads do, and copperheads tend to have thicker bodies.

Common, diamondback, and banded water snakes are all harmless and non-venomous, but they are often killed needlessly by those who mistake them for copperheads.

3. Corn Snakes

Corn Snake

Corn snakes live throughout central and southern parts of the United States and are found in many of the same regions as copperheads.

These snakes are easy to tell apart from copperheads if you are familiar with their color differences. Corn snakes tend to be bright orange to red in color, while copperheads are shades of orange-brown to brown.

That said, the patterns displayed by both snakes are similar. 

Corn snakes are non-venomous, and they have the characteristic rounded head and beady eyes of harmless snakes. They also have thinner bodies than copperheads.

Check out this video to learn more about the similarities and differences between copperheads and corn snakes.

4. Hognose Snakes

Hognose snakes are found throughout much of eastern North America. There are many different kinds and they don’t all look alike.

That said, some hognoses have similar colors and patterns as copperheads. What’s more, these snakes live in many of the same regions that copperheads do.

The best way to identify a hognose is by looking at its snout. As the name suggests, it is somewhat flat and shaped like the nose of a pig.

Hognoses will flatten their head and snout when they feel threatened, giving them an appearance similar to that of cobras. Copperheads do not exhibit this behavior.

5. Black Racer Snakes

Black racers

Black racers are found throughout much of the eastern United States, including many of the areas where copperheads live.

Adult black racers look quite different from copperheads–as the name suggests, they are black, and they have no patterns on their bodies.

However, juvenile black racers are lighter in color and have reddish-orange patterns that look quite similar to those displayed by copperheads.

If you’re new to identifying snakes, or if you have never seen either of these snakes in person before, you might easily confuse a black racer baby for a small, young copperhead.

6. Rattlesnakes


There are various types of rattlesnakes found throughout much of the United States. Some of them, such as the eastern diamondback, can be found in the same regions as copperheads.

Rattlesnakes are pit vipers, like copperheads. This means both snakes have triangular heads, slanted eyes, and pits behind their snout which they use to sense the body heat from their prey.

Copperheads sometimes act like rattlesnakes as well. If they feel threatened they will coil their bodies and shake their tails in an effort to frighten away the threat.

That said, copperheads don’t have rattles on their tails like rattlesnakes do.

Rattlesnakes have patterns on their bodies which may make them easy to confuse with copperheads, especially if you are new to snake identification. However, rattlesnakes are generally a lighter brown to gray in color than copperheads.

7. King Snakes

King snakes

King snakes are found throughout North America. There are many different species, some of which look similar to copperheads–especially when they are young.

King snakes exhibit various different colors and patterns. Some grow out of these patterns as they mature, while others do not.

Though their patterned appearance can lead to people confusing them with copperheads, they have many differences.

For one thing, copperheads are constrictors, not pit vipers. As such, their bodies are somewhat slimmer, their heads are rounded instead of triangular, and their eyes are small and round instead of large and slanted.

What’s more, king snakes often display bright colors such as red, yellow, dark brown, white, and black. They rarely have the orange-brown coloring that copperheads show off.

Finally, though they have various patterns, they do not have the distinctive Hershey’s Kiss pattern that copperheads display.


As you can see, there are several kinds of snakes that can look similar to copperheads. These snakes include rattlesnakes, corn snakes, and water snakes.

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