southern copperhead title.gif (11103 bytes)

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copperhead1.jpg (43083 bytes)   Ouachita Parish, La.  Photo: Mike Monlezun

Common name: Southern Copperhead
Generic name: Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix (Linnaeus)
Adult length: 24-36 inches;  record 52 in.
Complete range: southern Delaware and Maryland, south to extreme north central Florida, west to southeast Missouri, se. Oklahoma, and east Texas.
see RANGE MAP for range in Louisiana

The southern copperhead is a very beautiful, small- to medium-sized snake.  They are common throughout most of the state and are responsible for inflicting numerous bites.  Copperheads do not have the most toxic venom of snakes in the United States regardless of old wives tales. Many herpers that are relatively new to the hobby have the attitude that, "Hey. It's only a copperhead.   It's no big deal.  If I get bit, it's not like it was a rattlesnake or something".  Needless to say, this is a very dangerous attitude to have.

Copperheads have a reputation for having a beautiful appearance and a nasty disposition.  Copperheads CAN and DO inflict serious bites.  In the summer of 1997, a friend of Mike's chased a rat snake into a hollow log.  He reached in to grab it and came out with a copperhead attatched to his finger.  As of this writing (Feb '98), it has caused him nothing but heartache.  He has had several skin grafts and blood transfusions, had a pin put in his finger, and has missed a lot of work because of it.  A bite from a copperhead might not be life-threatening, but it can ruin your day.  This copperhead in the photo came from the Monroe area in northeast Louisiana.

A recent article in the Dallas Morning News told of research being done with the venom of the southern copperhead.  Scientists are synthesizing a drug in the lab that, in mice, has been shown to stop the spread of breast cancer.  Hopefully this could be big news in a few years.



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State Checklist | Herping in LA | Links | Authors | State Maps