Unlike most Australian snake species, Copperheads can thrive in some of the country's coldest and wettest regions.
There are 3 known species of Copperheads:
Though Copperheads (like most snakes) are secretive and do not seek out humans, they are highly venomous snakes that can cause human fatalities.
This article will help you understand what Copperheads look like, where they tend to live, how to treat their bites, and how to avoid snake bites altogether.
All three species of Copperhead snakes have similar identifying characteristics:
They do, however, differ in their total length:
Australian copperheads belong to the Elapidae family of snakes. As such, they are not closely related to the American copperhead, which belongs to the viper family.
All three species of Copperhead snakes are generally restricted to colder environments in south-eastern parts of Australia:
The Pygmy copperhead snake (Austrelaps labialis) is only found east of Adelaide in the Mount Lofty Ranges and on Kangaroo Island.
In the Mount Lofty Ranges, they generally only inhabit high altitude forest. On Kangaroo Island, however, they can be encountered in a wide range of habitats, including:
In these habitats, they tend to shelter in or under matted vegetation, flat stones, and fallen timber.
The Lowlands copperhead (Austrelaps superbus) can be found in lowland areas of south-eastern South Australia, southern Victoria, Tasmania, and the islands of Bass Strait.
They are often encountered in close proximity to marshes, creeks, streams, and other water sources in grasslands, heathland, woodlands, and open scrub.
They can also thrive in heavily disturbed areas, where they occur near dams, canals, and along the verges of roads.
Lowland copperheads tend to shelter in or under:
The Highland copperhead snake (Austrelaps ramsayi) can be found in the highlands of New South Wales and eastern Victoria.
Here, they occur in woodland and open forest, as well as disturbed areas that have been cleared for grazing and other agriculture.
Like their Lowland counterpart, Highland copperheads usually shelter near water sources in or under:
Copperhead snakes tend to feed on cold-blooded prey like insects, frogs, lizards, and other snakes.
They are mostly active during the day and on the ground, though they will occasionally climb to bask in sunlight.
Male Copperheads engage in combat upon the start of the breeding season, during which they intertwine their bodies.
Copperhead snakes are generally secretive and prefer to avoid humans.
If cornered, they will usually not bite in the first instance, but will instead hiss loudly, flatten their body, and thrash about.
Further provocation, however, could cause them to lash out and bite. Their venom is highly toxic to nerve cells, red blood cells, and other living cells, and so their bites should be treated as a medical emergency:
Though Copperheads are considered dangerous snakes, it is important to remember - snakes will never go out of their way to attack you.
The best way to avoid a snake bite is to refrain from approaching, capturing, or killing any snakes at home or in the wild. If you need a snake relocated from your property, contact a professional snake catcher.
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