SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) — Copperheads are not something you want to come across when hiking in the woods, poking around brush, or lifting up a rock. But as the temperatures cool in the Fall, it may become more common to come across a nest of snakes.
Late August through early October is when the serpents are born. Each litter may have around seven snakes, making them more common this time of year. Normally, during the summer you won’t find them slithering about as they do not like the heat of the day. As milder fall weather is on the way, the baby copperheads are on the move.
Rudy Martinez, the Springfield Nature Center Manager says, “As it cools off, those are the times you’ll be more likely to see a live copperhead, during the daytime.”
On average about 200 Missourians are bitten by snakes every year, most by copperheads.
Mike Crocker, the Springfield Zoo Director says of all the venomous snakes, you’re most likely to come across a copperhead. They are most commonly found in the morning hours basking in the sunlight, and towards the afternoon tend to hide in brush or under rocks.
Unlike their fellow venomous snakes, cottonmouths, copperheads do not like water. You may find them in the brush along the edges of the water. The good news, they have a distinctive ‘Hershey kiss’ marking with a light tan background. The bad news is, these markings make them naturally camouflaged.
“Sometimes you can walk within inches of them unless you step on them or something, they won’t move,” Crocker says.
Copperheads will not bite unless provoked. Most often, bites from these snakes occur when someone accidentally steps on them, or when they are harassed. The snakes can only strike up to a third of their body length, so if you do come across them give them some space and they will leave you alone. Thankfully, bites from the snake are not usually life-threatening as they don’t release all of their venom in a single bite. Medical attention should still be sought if bitten.