Copperhead, a poisonous snake related to the rattlesnake and the water moccasin. It is named for the coppery-red color of its head. The copperhead is about three feet (90 cm) long. Below each eye is a heat-sensing pit, which helps the snake locate prey. Copperheads feed on small rodents and birds, frogs, and insects. The female bears 1 to 14 live young, in late summer. The range of the copperhead is an area extending southwest-ward from Massachusetts to south-central Texas and northern Mexico. The copperhead is found mostly on rocky, wooded hillsides and along the edges of swamps and streams.

The copperheadThe copperhead is a pit viper related to the rattlesnake.
Why Do Copperheads Feel the Heat?

Copperheads are pit vipers. Like rattlesnakes, they can sense the body heat of other animals through small organs on either side of their heads. These deep pits can detect temperature changes as small as one degree.

Copperheads have something else in common with rattlesnakes. They are poisonous, and they kill animals with their venom. Copperheads do not have rattles, but young ones still use their tails. They wriggle their yellow-tipped tails to fool prey into coming closer. The yellow tips fade away as the snakes get older.

Copperheads have reddish-brown bands of color on their bodies. These bands make it hard to see copperheads among fallen leaves. In the United States, copperheads live in parts of New England, the Midwest, and the South.

Copperheads belong to the pit viper subfamily, Crotalinae, of the viper family, Viperidae. Common North American species are the northern copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix mokeson; the southern copperhead, A. c. contortrix; and the broad-banded copperhead, A. c. laticinctus.