About
Animal Facts
Common Name:
Copperhead
Scientific Name:
Agkistrodon contortrix
Behavior:
  • Social in the winter, it is not uncommon for them to hibernate with other snakes through winter.
  • Copperheads rely on their perfect camouflage as they lie in wait for prey to get close.
  • Juveniles wiggle the bright yellow tip of their tail to attract prey.
Diet:
Carnivore
Length:
3 ft
Life Span:
18 yrs
Gestation Period:
110 days
Number of Young:
3-10 eggs
Habitats:
  • Forest
  • Rocky Areas
  • Wetlands
Fun Facts:
  • If breeding occurs in the fall, females can store sperm until the following spring.
  • Copperhead venom has been studied and synthesized as a medicine to help treat pain, high blood pressure, and a variety of diseases.
  • Although painful, bites from a copperhead are rarely fatal to humans.
  • To some people, the musk released when copperheads feel threatened smells a bit like cucumbers.
Endangered Status
Endangered Status
  • Extinct in Wild (EW)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Not Evaluated (NE)

By marking snakes encountered on the North Carolina Zoo’s grounds, Zoo staff are learning valuable information about the status of our local snake population. In addition, snake research on site creates unique opportunities to teach visitors about the importance of these misunderstood but critical predators. Snakes are also tested for a fungal disease that is affecting an increasing number of wild snakes in North Carolina. You can read more about the Zoo’s work on wild snakes below, under related resources.

When most ambush predators like copperheads move, it’s to find hiding spots or areas to raise their body temperature.  Several spots within the habitat allow the snake to feel hidden or to warm up and regulate its body temperature.