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This site was created by students in the herpetology class at Towson University. Site last updated: 05/21/07.
Acknowledgements: Herb Harris - Range Maps; Mark Tegges - Photography; Dan Lapascha & Gigi Forester - TU Herpetology Logo
This venomous snake is named for its reddish-brown, copper-like color on the head. The head is unmarked, while the body is reddish to gray-brown with dark brown crossbands that are narrowest at the midback. Adults average 30 inches in length, and females are often longer than males. The scales are keeled, and there is a pit on each side of the head between the eye and the nostril. Young are 7-10 inches long, more gray than the adults, and have a distinct yellow-tipped tail.
Copperheads are often found on rocky, forested hillsides and near wetland areas. They can also sometimes occupy abandoned piles debris or sawdust.
Mating begins after copperheads emerge from their dens in the spring. From February to May, males will seek out and court a sexually active female until she is ready to mate. Mating time varies, but can last as much as 3.5-8.5 hours. Females will only mate with one male per year, as males produce a pheromone during mating that makes the female subsequently unattractive to other males. Some mating may occur in the fall, and females have the ability to store sperm until the following spring. The eggs develop in the female's body and 2-10 young are born from August to October. Both sexes reach sexual maturity at 4 years of age.
Distribution in Maryland
Range map adapted from Harris, 1975.