Scientific name: Agkistrodon contortrix pictigaster
The average size of a mature Trans-Pecos Copperhead is 2 - 3 feet in length. It is one of the smaller Copperhead subspecies.
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 Trans-Pecos Copperhead is generally a light tan to reddish-tan, with dark brown to reddish-brown bands. These bands are wider than the light space between them, hence the name. The bands also are not always thinner across the spine as they are in other Copperhead subspecies. The bands of the Trans-Pecos Copperhead are typically darker near the edges. The bands sometimes contain a few small, dark spots. The Trans-Pecos Copperhead usually has a lighter patch of color at the base of each band, and has a strongly patterned belly.
Young Trans-Pecos Copperheads are patterned like mature Trans-Pecos Copperheads, but are often grayer in color, and the tip of the tail on young Trans-Pecos Copperheads is 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 Trans-Pecos Copperhead eats. The tip of the tails of mature Trans-Pecos Copperheads tend to retain a slightly greenish color.
The Trans-Pecos 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 Trans-Pecos Copperhead has a large, triangular head that is wider than the neck when viewed from above.
In the United States, the Trans-Pecos Copperhead is found only in Texas.
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.
When the Trans-Pecos 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 Trans-Pecos Copperhead is born with the ability to bite and inject venom, and is fully capable of inflicting a venomous bite from birth.
Photo used by permission:
© 2011 Timothy Burkhardt
For more information on venomous snakes, please see the Venomous Links page.