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How To I.d. A Copperhead Snake


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#1 Ryan313 OFFLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 04:57 PM

I hear people all the time tell me about how they killed a copper head, and I always tell them it was likely a harmless milk snake, 99 percent of the time they still say it was a copper head.

 

Today I stopped by a family friends house and he told me he killed a copperhead. I asked if he knew the marks on a copperhead, and he said yes. He was completely confident that it was a copperhead and so I had him show me where it was; turns out, it was just a little 1 foot milk snake. I told him the differences and the identifying features of a copperhead. He later felt bad that he killed a harmless snake.

 

I want to make sure that you all know the difference between a milk snake and a copperhead, so I will explain the differences.

 

Milk snakes

milk-snake-head-small.jpg

 

milk-snake-body-small.jpg

 

milk_snake.jpg

 

MilkSnake1.jpg

 

Copperhead Snakes

northern_copperhead2.jpg

 

northern_copperhead_x2.jpg

 

copperhead_img_0075.jpg

 

Now for the differences:

 

First off, copperheads tend to be a much fatter and thicker snake then the slender milk snake.

 

Copperheads have an arrow shaped head, milk snakes do not. All venomous snakes have an arrow shape head, except the coral snake), all non-venomous snakes have the slender head, except the northern water snake.

 

Milk snakes have blotches that can range from red, to brown or tan; copperheads have bands that go all the way around the body, and the bands get narrow where they cross the vertebrae, and wide on the sides.

 

Personally, I love snakes, and that is why I took the time to find images and write this up. I would never kill a snake on purpose, even a venomous one; I think you should all do the same. I know that some of you are deathly afraid of snakes, and will kill them regardless, but just remember that all you are doing is hurting your local ecosystem and also killing an animal that has done nothing wrong. I know that a lot of you are going to continue killing them, but make sure that what you are killing is actually the venomous copperhead, and not a harmless milk snake!

 

Please, I do NOT want to hear your story about the evil snake you chopped up with the shovel because it chased you down. I do not want to hear the story about the evil snake that you saw and went to get the tractor so you could run it over with the mower deck. PLEASE! I do not want to hear any stories about a snake that you intentionally killed!


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#2 CADplans OFFLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 05:06 PM

Keep those puppies in NY state and you will not hear about their demise!!

 

A bear killed my neighbors sheep yesterday morning, if he walks through my place in the next few days, you will be hearing about a larger animal dying!!  AND not like this!!   :deadhorse:


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#3 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 05:39 PM

I am not at all fond of snakes. I find the best way to identify them is at the Zoo, by reading the tag behind 1/4 inch of plate glass!

So long as they leave me alone,, I will leave them alone. But if any varmint threatens me or mine they are in deep trouble by their choice not mine.
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#4 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 06:02 PM

Thanks for posting this Ryan. We don't have any venomous snakes here, at least not yet. I didn't realize that there were copperheads in NY state. The head is the big clue for me. The arrow shaped head is characteristic of venomous snakes and probably has to do with the venom sack, teeth and the muscles necessary to deliver the venom. We have garter snakes here and they are harmless to humans. They help get rid of insects. Last year I was admiring the roses on a large rugosa rose bush out back and there was a small snake staring right at me. It had climbed into that prickly rose bush to a height of 5ft and was sunning itself on the end of a branch. 


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#5 Gtractor OFFLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 06:08 PM

I, too, like snakes. 

Four or five times a year I find a black snake while mowing and have been known to hop off the tractor and pick them up and take them into the house to allow the MRS. a chance to "pet" the snake.  She is not a fan!   Sometimes they smell so bad I can't stand to pick them up but I always release them out of harms way. 

Lots of field mice here too.  Now a mouse I will try to mow or otherwise drive over.  Not because I am scared of them but they are very destructive. 

Thanks Ryan for the useful info!!!


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#6 KC9KAS OFFLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 06:54 PM

Please, I do NOT want to hear your story about the evil snake you chopped up with the shovel because it chased you down. I do not want to hear the story about the evil snake that you saw and went to get the tractor so you could run it over with the mower deck. PLEASE! I do not want to hear any stories about a snake that you intentionally killed!

 

I have NO comment.


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#7 916 hydro OFFLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 06:57 PM

i like snakes too as long as they stay where i cant see them


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#8 LilysDad ONLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 07:17 PM

>sigh< Your fighting a losing battle Ryan. Education won't cut it.

 

Oh, and it appears to me that the markings on the milk snake are bordered with black.


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#9 daytime dave OFFLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 07:27 PM

Ryan, thank you for that very informative post.  I learned something.  

 

I hope you get some good results by educating us.  Thanks.


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#10 drbish ONLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 07:51 PM

I myself do not like snakes,but if you leave them alone they will leave you alone.I am just always on guard this time off year when i go to move something that is setting in my yard.We have already seen 3 copperheads in our yard,and yes they were Copperheads.found one in the house last year about this time


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#11 TAHOE ONLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 08:03 PM

I agree, I do not like killing wild snakes, they are too beneficial with the small vermin. Luckily we rarely get copperheads up our way and also a water moccasin will wonder north. I also noticed on your pics, the milk snake has more bands, but the copperheads patterns are more random, kind of like leafy camo. I knew of the head shapes.

Wished we could afford to feed them, my son and I would love to have a corn snake of some type.


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#12 SearsYellow OFFLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 08:18 PM

We have so many hawks around the house I do not have to take care of them. I have lived in my house for 2 years in the middle of basically 100 acres and have only seen Worm snakes and snakes skins. I think they pretty much stay in the fields were rats and baby rabbits are. As long as they are not trying to get into the house or messing with my animals snakes are good with me. The only time snakes scare me are when they are very close to me and it startles me. If I can't hold my thumb out and cover it's whole body that means I am way to close to it.


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#13 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 09:17 PM

I'm not a snake person, but do let the harmless ones go such as the Garter Snake.

Anything that looks questionable though.... well .....



#14 Cvans ONLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 09:27 PM

As long as the snake keeps his head down you won't hear any death by mower stories from me. 

 

:anvil_drop:


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#15 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted May 29, 2013 - 09:49 PM

Ryan,
Isn't there something with the eyes too? As in the copperhead has "cat" eyes and the milk has round?

As for John Q. Snake... I try to give them all the room they want, once in a while I am surprised by one and the neighbors question my masculinity with the dancing, but as a rule anything they eat I don't want around and that makes them the "Enemy of my Enemy" ergo, "Friend"

Just don't ask me to hug one. :D
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