OSAGE COPPERHEAD


Scientific name: Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster

Size

The average size of a mature Osage Copperhead is 2-3 feet in length.

Description

The Copperhead gets it name from the copper-red color of the top of its head, similar to the color of a penny. The body of the Osage Copperhead is generally a light tan to reddish-tan, with dark brown to reddish-brown bands. These bands are hourglass shaped, being thinner across the spine and wider on the sides of the snake. The inside of the hourglass pattern is usually lighter on the sides of the body. Sometimes the bands of the Osage Copperhead are outlined in white. There are no spotted marks between the bands on the Osage Copperhead.

Young Osage Copperheads are patterned like mature Osage Copperheads, but are often grayer in color, and the tip of the tail on young Osage Copperheads is a greenish-yellow. The greenish-yellow tail is used to attract food. It is wiggled in a motion imitating a worm or caterpillar, which attract frogs, lizards, or other prey that the young Osage Copperhead eats.

The Osage Copperhead has elliptical pupils that look like cat's eyes and like all pit vipers, has a heat-sensing pit between the nostril and eye on each side of its head. The Osage Copperhead has a large, triangular head that is wider than the neck when viewed from above. The head of the Osage Copperhead has no distinctive markings.

Distribution

In the United States, the Osage Copperhead is found in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
Map of US states the Osage Copperhead is found in.
Map does not show area of true distribution, only the states in which there is a population.
Actual distribution in any highlighted state may be limited.

Notes

When the Osage Copperhead is disturbed or feels threatened, it will often coil up its body, and raise its head at a 45-degree angle from the ground in a defensive posture. It will often vibrate its tail when disturbed as well.

The Osage Copperhead is born with the ability to bite and inject venom, and is fully capable of inflicting a venomous bite from birth.

Osage Copperhead
Photo used by permission:
© 2004 Mike Pingleton

Osage Copperhead
Photo used by permission:
© 2004 Mike Pingleton

For more information on venomous snakes, please see the Venomous Links page.


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