Copperheads are venomous pit vipers, so you may be curious to find out if they live in your area. Or, if you know that they live in your region, you may be interested in finding out more about their preferred habitats so you can limit your chances of running into them. So, where do you find copperhead snakes? What are their most common habitats, and where do they like to hide? In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.
What You'll Learn Today
Which State Has the Most Copperhead Snakes?
There are five subspecies of copperhead snake found throughout the southern and eastern United States. The subspecies with the widest distribution is the northern copperhead, which is found from Illinois to Massachusetts south to Georgia and Alabama.
Other copperheads are found further south and west in states such as Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
Copperheads are widely distributed throughout most southern and eastern states, but it is unclear which state has the most.
That said, the state with the most copperhead bites is North Carolina, with about 158 bite cases per million people; so it could be a safe bet that North Carolina has the most copperheads, or at least the most human interactions with copperheads.
Again, though, this is just speculation, as it’s unclear which state has the greatest copperhead population.
Where is the Best Place to Find Copperheads?
Copperheads are found in a variety of habitats, but they seem to prefer areas near streams, creeks, or other bodies of water. They also prefer lots of overgrowth from shrubs, vines, and other plants, as these areas offer plenty of hiding places.
Copperheads are good at camouflage, so it’s not always easy to see them. Their brown, patterned bodies blend in well with dead leaves and other forest debris found in their natural habitats.
Copperheads may be found near suburban areas, but they tend to stay in more undeveloped or wild spots–close, but not too close, to people.
Again, they can live in many different habitats–sometimes they are found in dry, rocky areas, and other times they are found in swamps. They can even be found in evergreen forests in some parts of the country.
Different species of copperhead live in different habitats, some in lowland regions and some in highlands.
Check out this video to learn more about copperhead snakes.
Can Copperheads Climb Trees?
Copperheads prefer staying on the ground, but they will sometimes go up into trees. According to Live Science, they sometimes climb into small trees or low-growing bushes looking for food or a good place to sun themselves.
That said, copperheads aren’t really known for their climbing abilities as some other snakes are. They simply do what they have to do in order to get food, and this sometimes involves going up into trees.
Where Do Copperheads Usually Hide?
Copperheads may hide in a number of places. They prefer to live in areas with both sunlight and ample places to hide, and their skin color makes it easy for them to camouflage in a variety of settings.
Some of their favorite hiding places include:
- Under logs: In forest areas, copperheads frequently hide under fallen trees and chopped logs. The small hollow spaces underneath logs are perfect for small and medium copperheads to squeeze into.
- In forest debris: In any forest, there are always fallen leaves, twigs, loose dirt and loam, and other plant materials littering the ground. This forest debris is loose and lightweight, and it’s easy for copperheads to camouflage to, making it one of their hiding places of choice.
- In thickets: Areas of dense growth from vines, shrubs, tall grass, and other plants provide cover from humans and large animals. They also house numerous smaller animals which copperheads may hunt for food.
- In farm buildings: Copperheads sometimes hide out in abandoned or rarely-used farm buildings. These buildings provide plenty of hiding places and often attract rodents that copperheads can eat.
- At construction areas: Copperheads may try to avoid active construction areas, but any that have been abandoned or left unattended for a period of time may attract these snakes. Copperheads may hide under pieces of plywood and sheet metal as well as in sawdust piles and under large, flat rocks.
- In junkyards: Copperheads like junkyards for the same reason they like old farm buildings and construction sites–they offer plenty of hiding places. They may also offer food sources in the form of other small animals looking for shelter.
What Time of Year are Copperheads Most Active?
Copperheads hibernate during winter and are nocturnal in summer, so they are generally most active in the spring and fall. Mating season is during the spring, so this is when they are most likely to be out and about, looking for mates.
Also, they are most active during the day in the spring and fall, so you’re more likely to encounter them. They are thought to migrate during the spring and fall, so you may see more of them during these seasons if you live in a place where they pass through on their journey.
Though you’re most likely to see them in the spring and fall, you may also encounter them during the summer while camping or doing other outdoor activities at night, especially if it’s a humid night following a rain.
What Do Copperheads Eat?
Copperheads will eat a variety of small prey animals–just about anything they can fit their mouth around. They are pit vipers that hunt using their pits, which allows them to sense heat and strike warm-blooded animals with great precision, though they sometimes hunt cold-blooded animals as well.
Copperheads inject their prey with venom, quickly killing the animal before swallowing it whole.
Sometimes they have to wait a little longer for the venom to take effect, especially with large animals; copperheads may actually let these animals go and will wait nearby for them to die. With smaller prey, they may hold the animal in their mouth while waiting for it to die, killing it more quickly by suffocating it and continuing to inject venom into its body.
Some of a copperhead’s preferred foods include:
- Rodents: Copperheads enjoy small rodents such as mice, rats, and chipmunks. They can easily catch these warm-blooded creatures by sensing body heat with their pits.
- Amphibians: Copperheads also eat cold-blooded animals, including amphibians such as frogs and toads. These animals are often plentiful near the water sources copperheads prefer to live at.
- Lizards: Copperheads living in drier climates often eat lizards. These cold-blooded animals can be found throughout rocky desert and glade regions.
- Insects: Insects are found almost everywhere, so they frequently make quick and easy snacks for copperheads.
- Other snakes: Copperheads are medium-sized snakes, often growing between two and four feet long. For this reason, they are capable of eating a number of smaller snakes that they may find living in the same habitats.
Copperhead snakes are found in many habitats throughout the United States, especially in some of the southern and eastern states. These snakes can be found in forests, deserts, swamps, glades, highlands, lowlands, and near bodies of water, and they may also encroach on areas populated with humans, though they generally try to keep their distance.