Scaring on a baby copperhead in your garden?
Did you know that according to the centre for disease control, approximately 7000-8000 people are bitten by snakes each year in the United States? A large percentage of these people are bitten by copperhead.
Even though only 0.1% of cases are fatal, baby copperhead’s bites are painful. Actually, in most cases, people bitten by baby copperheads don’t have to neutralize the venoms with anti-venoms.
However, people with low immune systems, infants, and the elderly might need emergency medical assistance if they are bitten. It is because they might be at a greater risk of developing complications after the bit.
In many instances, people are bitten by snakes when they accidentally step on them or try to pick them.
Would you love to know how you can identify copperheads, remove, and even prevent them from entering your yard? Keep reading this guide!
7 Tips to Identify a Baby Copperhead
Did you know there are many myths about venomous snakes? Some of these myths include:
- Juveniles release more venom compared to adults as they cannot control it. Well, this myth is unrealistic. It is because juvenile venom glands are small and can only release a small amount of venom.
- That you can identify venomous snakes through their triangular heads, pit vipers indeed have triangular heads that accommodate their venom glands. However, many non-venomous snakes flatten their heads and extend their jaws, making them like triangular heads.
- Some venomous snakes such as corals have narrow heads, yet they are the second deadliest snakes worldwide.
All these myths cannot help you identify copper heads. How then can you identify those snakes?
They Have a Bright Yellow or Green Tail Tip
It is easy to identify a baby copperhead through its bright yellow or green tail-tips. These snakes are born with bright tails to help them attract their prey.
Copperhead snakes grow fast as they can easily find food for themselves. However, when they are a year older, their tails turn black or dark brown.
They Have Dark Hourglasses-Like Patterns
When you look at the copperheads’ bodies from above, the thin band in their spine that widens towards the belly forms hourglasses-like patterns.
However, when you look from the sides, the patterns look like Hershey’s kiss candies in a row.
All these patterns are dark brown. However, their heads are copper tone, and thus their names.
Copperhead Snakes Have Facial Pits
Copperheads belong to the pit viper family. Thus, they have a pair of heat sensors between the eyes and the nostrils.
These pits are essential as they help the copperheads regulate their body temperatures and find prey.
Copperheads have poor eyesight. Thus, pit glands are great tools for them to locate their prey.
However, it is difficult to notice these glands unless you are very close to the copperheads. Thus, this is a great way to recognize them but only from a closer view.
It is even more difficult to notice the glands in baby copperheads as they are too tiny.
Copperhead Pupils Are Vertically Slit
Have you ever heard that most venomous snakes have “cat-eyes” pupils? Well, it is true. Unlike nonvenomous snakes in which pupils are round, copperheads and most other venomous snakes have vertically slit pupils.
Copperhead eyes are golden-yellow, and their pupils are black and vertically slit at the center. Though copperhead eyes appear beautiful, you better admire them from the pictures.
Keeled scales mean rough texture due to raised scales. Of course, you can only know that the snakes have keeled scales by touching.
But, don’t ever try this unless you are a professional snake catcher. Copperhead and most other venomous snakes have keeled scales.
Thus, instead of trying to touch and feel the texture, look at their tails and patterns from afar.
They Are Short and Thick
Copperheads measure approximately 7-10 inches when they are babies, and only grow to a maximum length of about 38 inches.
However, they are thick, and a 24” copperhead can have the same thickness as the circle when your thumb touches your pointer finger.
Though baby copperheads are usually thin at birth, they quickly thicken when they have a steady source of food.
It is worth noting that most venomous snakes have a short thick body just like the copperheads.
Even though this is the most accurate way to differentiate venomous from non-venomous snakes, it is the most dangerous way to do it unless you are an expert.
Venomous snakes, including copperheads, have a single long, straight, scale lining the belly. And, non-venomous have a double joined scale forming a zipper shape scutes at the belly.
You would have to flip over the snake to observe this characteristic, which is a dangerous move and, thus, not recommended.
Snake Species Commonly Confused For A Baby Copperhead
There are over 125 species of snakes in the United States. Most of these snakes have similarities with copperheads, and thus, people confuse them with copperheads.
Let’s look at some of the most common snakes that look like copperheads.
|Juvenile Black Racer||Juvenile Black Racers have a dark-grey base color with brownish blotches. They are almost identical to Juvenile Eastern Rat Snake|
|Juvenile Eastern Rat Snake||Juvenile Eastern Rat Snakes are either black or grey, and they have large sports over their spines, but the patterns do not appear like an hourglass.|
|Eastern Hognose||Just like the copperheads, the Eastern Hognoses are short and thick. But, with erratic patterns that are not uniform like the copperheads.|
|Northern Water Snake||Unlike copperheads, Northern Water Snakes have thick and dark spinal bands that narrow towards the belly. They might also come with broken bands, unlike copperheads that have uniform patterns.|
|Juvenile Mole KingSnake||Mole kings are either grey or tan with dark reddish-brown blotches over their spine. When they are older, they turn almost fully brown.|
|Corn snake||It’s easy to differentiate corn snakes from copperheads since they are bright orange and red, unlike copperheads with dark brown tones and a complete copper head colors.They also have large spots over the spine that do not meet at the snake’s sides nor form hourglass patterns.|
Well, these are some of the commonly mistaken snakes for copperheads. Let’s now learn how we can safely remove and prevent them from entering our yards.
Tips to Safely Remove Baby Copperhead from Your Yard
Copperheads are not aggressive, and in most cases, they sleep and wait for the prey to come along. Thus, it is very unlikely for them to bite unless you accidentally step on them, or you make them feel threatened.
However, it can be quite disturbing to know a venomous snake is lying in your yard. Thus, how then can you remove it from your yard?
Use a Long Hook
Snake handling devices are good investments for people who live in areas where copperheads and other venomous snakes are common.
Using hooks to catch a snake is the safest way. You should ensure to use a hook that is least 3 feet long.
The best way to use a hook is by gently taking the pointed end underneath the snake’s middle. And, quickly lift the snake before it can slither away.
The snakes tend to fickle the hook; thus, you can gently vibrate it to make the snake hold more on the hook.
You can then place the snake in a bucket and tight lid and then move it to the desired location.
However, if the snake cannot hold on to the hook, you should consider using a clamp stick.
Clamp sticks are the most effective when it comes to picking up snakes. These sticks work just like the trash grabber.
You can use the trigger connected to a pulley to close the clamp and keep the snake intact. This method is friendlier to snakes.
How to pick up the snake
- Gently slide the clamp’s bottom under the snake’s body at the center.
- Close the clamp gently to grip the snake.
- Don’t over tighten the grip as it can damage the snake’s ribs.
- Put the snake in a bucket with a lid and move it to wherever the safe location is.
It would be best if you never grabbed the snake from the neck or the tail using the hook or the clamp. Serious injuries could occur at the spine or even at the neck.
Alternative Tools to Use
What if you have neither a hook nor a clamp grabber, and you suddenly saw a baby copperhead in your yard?
If you were to find yourself in such a position, you have to think of a quick way to remove the snake.
The most important thing to remember is that whatever you use, it must be at least 3 feet long. It is critical to create a safe distance between you and the snake and ensure that you do not harm the snake.
You can consider using a shovel to scoop the snake and put it in a bucket quickly. You can also overturn the bucket and try to push the snake inside if the snake keeps slithering off.
Whichever tool you decide to use, remember to keep a 3 feet distance to avoid the snake from biting you.
Pro-tip: Can wasp spray kill a snake?
Signs A Baby Copperhead is Stressed
Remember, we mentioned earlier that copperheads tend to be aggressive if they feel threatened. Thus, it is likely that they might try to bite during the picking attempts.
Therefore, you must understand the snake’s defensive signs to prevent overstressing the snake. And also avoid being bitten by the snake.
These signs include:-
- Sticking out
- Shaking the tail and coiling up
- Slithering away
- Hissing and mouth breathing
How to Stop Copperheads From Entering Your Yard
The most effective way to get rid of copperheads is by ensuring that they do not nest in your yard.
It is easy to prevent snakes from entering your yard by keeping your yard clean. Copperheads and most other snakes prefer to stay in areas where they can hide.
Thus, when your yard is free from long grasses and bushes, it is difficult for snakes to find hiding places.
How you can baby copperhead snake-proof your yard?
- Ensure that there are no holes and dark places around your house. Snakes look for cool places to hide during the day when the temperatures are too high.
- Sweep off all the leaves in your yard
- Ensure that there are no bushes in your yard
If you live in an area where these snakes are monotonous, and you can’t seem to keep them off with a clean yard, you can consider physical deterrents.
One of the most effective physical deterrents is the snake fence. This snake fence ensures that the snakes do not penetrate through the wall. However, they are not snake proof.
Commercial traps are also common. But they are not recommended as they are not safe for snakes. They can badly injure or kill the snake.
Therefore, you should never try to use commercial traps to catch snakes. Since sometimes snakes travel through the home in search of water, you can consider leaving some water outside your yard to prevent them from getting into the yard.
Baby copperhead bites are painful but not fatal. However, they can be quite expensive to treat as they may require antivenom to treat.
Thus, it would be in your best interest to avoid copperhead bites altogether.
If you understood how these snakes look, it would be easier to avoid those bites.
Therefore, it is necessary to be able to properly identify copperheads and keep at least 3 feet distance if you have to pick them.
Additionally, you should ensure that your yard is clean, free from long grasses and bushes, and free from possible hiding holes for the copperheads to nest.
If you make all that possible, I hope that you will live in a copperhead free yard.