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Copperheads- Be careful where you step



The eastern copperhead is a species of venomous snake, a pit viper, commonly found in South Carolina. They have a distinctive, dark brown, hourglass-shaped markings, overlaid on a light reddish brown or brown/gray background. They have a stout body with a broad head. The Copperhead has a yellow eye with a black vertical and elliptical pupil, like that of a cat’s eye. Neonates are born with green or yellow tail tips, which progress to a darker brown or black within one year. Adults grow to a typical length (including tail) 20–37 in. and have a lifespan of 25 years. It favors deciduous forest and mixed woodlands. It may occupy rock outcroppings and ledges, but is also found in low-lying, swampy regions. They can also find shelter under surface cover such as boards, sheet metal, and logs. During the winter, it hibernates in dens or limestone crevices, often together with timber rattlesnakes and black rat snakes. Like most pit vipers, the eastern copperhead is generally an ambush predator; it takes up a promising position and waits for suitable prey to arrive. Unlike other vipers, they often "freeze" instead of slithering away, relying on excellent camouflage. When lying on dead leaves or red clay, they can be almost impossible to notice. They frequently stay still even when approached closely, and generally strike only if physical contact is made. Like most other vipers, copperheads exhibit defensive tail vibration when closely approached. This species can vibrate its tail more than 40 times per second— faster than almost any other non-rattlesnake snake species. Diet includes various invertebrates, e.g., millipedes, spiders, beetles, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and mantids, as well as numerous species of vertebrates, including salamanders, frogs, lizards, snakes, small turtles, small birds, young opossums, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, bats, shrews, moles, rats, and mice. Eastern copperheads breed in late summer, but not every year; sometimes, females produce young for several years running, then do not breed at all for a time. They give birth to live young, each of which is about 8 inch in total length. The typical litter size is four to seven, but as few as one, or as many as 20 may be seen. Their size apart, the young are like the adults, but lighter in color, and with a yellowish-green-marked tip to the tail, which is used to lure lizards and frogs. Although venomous, copperheads are generally not aggressive, and bites are rarely fatal. Copperheads often employ a "warning bite" when stepped on and inject a relatively small amount of venom, if any at all. "Dry bites" involving no venom are particularly common with the copperhead. Juvenile’s please do not approach. From birth, they already have functional venom glands but can’t control (or throttle) the amount of venom they inject. A bite from any venomous snake should be taken very seriously and immediate medical attention sought. All snakes play a very important role in South Carolina’s environmental ecosystems as they control rodents and many other small-sized nuisance wildlife populations. This helps to decrease damage to property and the spread of disease. To best protect yourself against snake bites, always be aware while in the woods, your backyard, or outdoors. Credits: Wikipedia, Clemson Ext



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