Page 124 - A Field Guide to Fairfax County's Plants and Wildlife
P. 124
thern Copperhead

(Agkistrodon contortrix)


The Northern Copperhead
is a pit viper with long fangs
for injecting venom. A pit on
each side of its face detects
heat which helps the snake
to find prey. It is coppery-red,
orange or pinkish-brown with
an hourglass pattern of brown
crossbands. It grows to 61 to
91 centimeters. Copperheads
hibernate from November
through April. They mate in
April or May. Copperheads
bear live young from August through early October.

The Northern Copperhead is the Distribution and Habitat
only venomous snake in Fairfax
County. Northern Copperheads are found
only in the U.S. They live in all five
They may bite if threatened, but physiographic provinces of Virginia.
Northern Copperheads are sluggish They live in forests, fields, swamps,
and not very aggressive toward marshes, hedge rows, upland
people. rocky areas, rock walls, wood piles,
forested dunes near beaches, areas
around barns and old houses and
some suburban areas.

Role in Food Web

Copperheads control rodents. They eat Meadow Voles, Gray Squirrels, Least
Shrews, Common Five-lined Skinks, American Bullfrogs, Spring Peepers,
Eastern Cottontail Rabbits, Red-winged Blackbirds, American Toads, Field
Crickets, American Robins, Muskrats and Northern Ringneck Snakes. Their
predators include owls, Red-tailed Hawks, Virginia Opossums, Red Foxes and
Common Snapping Turtles.

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