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Understanding Copperheads

Sep 28, 2020

If copperheads are a fear factor for you, there is hope and help. Since they don’t look like other Missouri snakes, they are easy to identify and avoid.

Missouri’s copperheads are pinkish tan with dark-brown markings along their backs that are shaped like an hourglass or bow tie. This camouflage look helps them hide from prey in leaves along rocky hillsides and forest edges. They make excellent exterminators as their diet is mostly mice and voles.

Copperheads are active from April through November, and have young from August through early October. They are not aggressive and seldom strike unless provoked.

Discourage copperheads from around your home by getting rid of wood or rock piles and tall grass. Wear boots when in woods or brushy fields, and leather gloves when moving rocks, old lumber and firewood.

Copperhead Facts

  • Copperheads hunt for a variety of small animals, but mice make up most of their prey, so copperheads play an important role in limiting their populations.
  • Copperheads eat mice, lizards, frogs, small birds, insects (especially cicadas), and sometimes small snakes.
  • Young copperheads use their yellow tail as a lure to attract small frogs or lizards.
  • However, they often rely on their camouflage pattern when resting in dead leaves and will usually remain motionless when encountered.

For more copperheads, visit our Field Guide.

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