The American copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) is a species of venomous viper native to eastern North America. Mature copperheads have a beautiful coppery colored head and neck. They tend to be smallish snakes, generally about 50 cm long (1.5 ft), but specimens up to 1 m long (3 ft) have been encountered. The body is thin by pit viper standards. There are four clearly defined subspecies. The Northern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen, is found throughout the northeastern United States It is reddish brown overall, with a number of chestnut-colored "hourglass" markings running down its back. The Southern copperhead (A. contortrix contortrix) of the south-eastern United States is generally paler and has more clearly defined markings, sometimes including a row of dark triangular marks the sides of the body.






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The Broad-banded copperhead (A. contortrix laticinctus) of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas is sometimes considered the most attractive of the four. It tends to be smaller than the Northern and Southern races, rarely being longer than about 75 cm, and has wide bands across the back which are not narrowed at the spine. The Trans-Pecos copperhead (A. contortrix pictigaster) is similar to the Broad-banded, is of equal size, and has has slightly hourglass-shaped markings, usually with a lighter patch at the base of each band. The genus Agkistrodon, of which the American copperhead is a member, includes 10 species, three of them native to North America (one being the well-known Cottonmouth. The remainder are found in Asia and the islands nearby, notable members include the Siberian moccasin, the Himalayan viper, and the Okinawan habu. Note that the three Australian copperheads are elapids and not related. American copperheads breed in late summer but not to a fixed pattern: sometimes a female will give produce young for several years running, then not breed at all for a time. They give birth to live young about 20 cm long: a typical litter is 4 to 7, but it can be as few as one or as many as 20. Their size apart, the young are similar to the adults, but lighter in color, and with a yellow-marked tip to the tail, which is used to lure lizards and frogs. Like all pit vipers, American copperheads are ambush predators: they take up a promising position and wait for suitable prey to arrive. Roughly 90% of their diet is small rodents: mice, voles, and similar creatures.

Above Images Come From The US Fish & Wildlife Service




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