How To Identify A Copperhead Snake In 5 Steps

The outdoor life is amazing, fantastic, and breathtaking! Nothing beats the view of the rising sun and the starry night outside the bustling cityscape. Wouldn’t you agree? Of course, you do! Can you smell the fresh outdoor breeze?

Aside from the majestic view, you know what else is breathtaking? A snake! A snake just a few feet away from you may give you a mini heart attack! If it comes closer, it can literally (in a case of a venomous snake), take away your breath! You don’t want that! Do you?

Most of us don’t want those snakes to touch us or at least get near to us! In many cases, these snakes don’t match an adrenaline pumped human. These snakes, venomous or not, are axed and beaten to death. But if you know how to identify a copperhead snake, you just need to walk away from it or shoo it away.


What You Will Need​

How To Identify A Copperhead Snake In 5 Steps

There really is no need to panic in such cases. But I know, it’s not as easy as that for some people. But let me tell you some ways how to identify them. At least next time, you can just walk away from them instead of panicking or bludgeoning an innocent snake to death.​

You got to have the following to properly identify​

  • Keen sense
  • General about snakes

Now, when you have put yourself together, let’s see them!

Know Your Enemy

To properly identify your enemy, you need to do research! You need to know its whereabouts. You must find out its favorite food and when during the day it feeds. You must know it’s colors and variations! You need to find out how it behaves!

You don’t want to encounter a copperhead unprepared! Here are some facts about the copperhead snake.​


I am pleased to tell you that a copperhead snake is the least venomous among its family. It takes a good 100mg of its venom for a lethal dose. A snake bite from a copperhead is not deadly. It’s bite rarely cause complications.


Copperhead snake goes by a lot of other names. People might be talking about a snake with a different name that is a copperhead snake. Here are some of the common names of copperhead snakes.

  • Highland Moccasino
  • Chunk Head
  • Red Snake
  • Pilot Snake
  • White oak snake
  • Poplar leaf
  • Cantil Cobrizo (in Spanish)

They go by a lot of other names and vary in color in some regions. But still, they all belong to the pit viper family.


Copperheads are endemic in North America. If you are traveling or camping along the north, take careful note that you may encounter copperheads there.


A typical copperhead 90% rodents and 10% insects. Knowing the population of rodents in the area is can also be an indicator of this snake’s presence.


How To Identify A Copperhead Snake In 5 Steps

Like all pit vipers, copperheads are ambush predators. It patiently waits for its prey for the optimal position and takes one swift motion to attack its meal. It rarely comes in contact with people. When it does, you get a 50% chance of being attacked when you get too close.

But usually, it won’t move unless it's touched. Its first attack is just a warning to threaten its adversary. This attack has very little venom in it though. Just walk away from it, and it won’t bother following you!


Copperheads are not known for their size. The average length of an adult copperhead snake is 20-37 inches.


The camouflage of copperheads mimics the color of the earth. It’s quite difficult to notice when it’s mixed on with dry leaves and patches of earth. Many people who got bitten by a copperhead snake did not notice it until they were eventually bitten by it.

How to Identify a Copperhead Snake

Copperhead Snake

The tan camouflage is one of the most common colors of snakes. This makes identifying snakes a little difficult. If you are not familiar with them and if you don’t pay much attention to them, they all look pretty much the same! How do you tell which one is a copperhead snake?​

Step 1

Color of the head

Look carefully at the color of the snake’s head. It’s called copperhead for a reason. The color of its head is distinct from its body. It’s coppery, and it almost shines.

Step 2

Shape of the head

Pit vipers are known for their arrow head shape. Look at the profile of the head, and you will notice that they have a pointy nose and resembles the shape of an arrow.

Step 3

Color bands

Their bands are lighter than the color of their head. They have great camouflage, and you will barely notice them on dry leaves.

Step 4


How To Identify A Copperhead Snake In 5 Steps

Their tails have a distinct taper and narrow down to a point. The tail is obviously darker than the color of the body and is often black. Copperheads perform a neat trick when they are encountered. They wiggle their tail and tries to trick you they are rattlesnakes. Obviously, they don’t have rattlers.

Step 5


They don’t usually grow longer than one arm’s length. They get smaller when they ball up.

Plan of Action

Don’t panic. Walk opposite the direction of the snake.

If you frequent places where snake encounters are frequent, you better educate yourself and have a plan of action in mind. You need to be mentally prepared in case of a snake face-off!

Our instincts will tell us three things when facing danger. One is to fight, and the other is to flee. The third thing happens when you are not prepared for the encounter and you are overwhelmed by the situation. When the unexpected happens, you may be paralyzed in shock. You don’t want to be that person!

Killing the snake may be your best choice. But we all know that is not the most humane thing you can do. Besides, this is just a three feet snake, and it’s not a constrictor. Hammering its head with a shovel is overkill. Here’s the suggested plan of action you can do. Ready?​

Don’t panic. Walk opposite the direction of the snake.​

The copperheads first instinct is to flee away from danger. Anything larger than it is considered by the snake a danger. Naturally, it will flee away from you. If you approach it, you will only aggravate the situation and provoke the snake.

If you don’t have any business touching the snake, you better back away from it immediately. Venomous or not, you should just leave it. Many venomous snakes are being slaughtered every year, and their number in the wild had steadily dwindled.

These snakes have a role in the ecosystem. With venom or not, you better keep steer away from it. The best thing you could do is to tell all your companions that you have encountered a snake so that they can take necessary precaution too. Reporting the sighting to the concerned agency can help them identify and monitor the species.​

In Case of A Snake Bite

How To Identify A Copperhead Snake In 5 Steps

In the event that you or one of your companions have been bitten by a properly identified copperhead snake, your next best step is to visit a hospital and have yourself checked.​

Symptoms may vary from mild pain, numbness, to excruciating pain. There will be noticeable tissue damage but it is not alarming and life threatening. Some people do not seek medical attention at all as the symptoms would eventually leave. But, just to be safe, go visit a hospital.

You don’t want to be one of the few casualties of copperhead snake bite.

Save Your Life

This may not be the first thing that will pop in your mind in case you got yourself bitten. But here’s the thing. If you get bitten by a snake, whatever type of snake it is, take out your phone and take a picture of the snake.​

It may sound absurd, but it can save your life! Proper identification of the snake is the key to getting the right anti-venom. If you have the identity of the snake, you will be spared from hundreds of thousand-dollar treatment that will put your life at risk.


The key on how to identify a copperhead snake is taking note of the shape and color of its head. It has an arrow shaped head and almost shiny copper color. It has an earthy tan colored band and a tapered pointy dark tail. Take note of the behavior of the snake’s tail. A copperhead will try to mimic a rattle snake and try to scare you with it.​

Just run away from the snake. Don’t try to attack it. It won’t attack you! You don’t need to kill it! Spare its life by just walking away from it.​

Did you find this post useful? I hope you did! These are some basic tips that are applicable in a real-life encounter with a copperhead snake or any other snake. If you have questions, leave a comment below, and I will connect with you soon! Share this post with your friends so that they may be aware too!

Paul Watson 

How To Identify A Copperhead Snake In 5 Steps
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