Copperhead common

Not many are familiar with such a reptile as the common copperhead, although the area of ​​u200bu200bits settlement is very extensive. Apparently, this is due to the fact that the density of copperheads in the territories inhabited by them is extremely low, so a meeting with this particular snake is only occasionally possible. Our ancestors believed that the copperhead had magical powers and, with the help of witchcraft, could harm a person, so they tried never to offend her and not drive her out of the courtyard. Let’s consider the life features of this little-known snake, describing all its characteristic features and habits.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Copperhead

Photo: Copperhead

The common copperhead is a non-poisonous snake belonging to the family of already-shaped and the genus of copperheads. This genus of snakes includes only three varieties of reptiles, including the common copperhead. Even in ancient times in Russia, legends and legends were formed about this snake. The Russians believed that a bite of a copperhead would lead to death precisely at sunset. This belief, like the very name of the reptile, is associated with its color. On the belly of a snake person, the scales have a copper color, and this is especially noticeable in the sun. The eyes of the copperhead are also reddish.

Video: Copperhead

The common copperhead is a small-sized snake, the length of its body does not exceed seventy centimeters. Males are smaller than females. The tail of copperheads is several times (4 – 6) shorter than the length of the entire body. The head of the copperhead is oval, slightly flattened. Against the background of the whole body, it stands out slightly, there is no sharp transition from the torso to the head. The skin surface of the reptile is smooth and shiny. Apparently, therefore, in the sun it casts even more with the color of copper ore.

Contrary to terrible legends and mystical beliefs, copperhead is absolutely not dangerous to humans, because it does not possess poisonous weapons. Of course, she can bite, but this, apart from a little discomfort at the puncture site, will not bring much harm. Often the copperhead suffers because they confuse it with a poisonous viper and try to kill it. To understand exactly what is in front of you, namely, a copperhead, you need to understand in detail its external features and find out the characteristic differences between this harmless reptile and a dangerous viper.

Appearance and features

Photo: Copperhead snake

Photo: Copperhead snake

Small copperhead snake has its own characteristics and distinctive features.

The color of the ridge of a reptile can be:

  • gray;
  • yellowish-brown;
  • reddish brown;
  • dark gray (almost black).

As already noted, the belly of the snake has a shade of copper, often, and the back casts some kind of red. It has been observed that the gray tone predominates in copperheads living in the southern territories. When molting occurs, the color of the reptile darkens and can become brown or almost black. The shades of males and females are also different. Males have more red hues, while females are dominated by brownish tones.

One of the distinguishing features of the copperhead is a black stripe, which begins at the end of the muzzle, passes through the eye at the level of the pupil. The eyes and pupils of the copperfish are round. The iris of the eyes is painted in a reddish tint. On the ridge and sides of the copperhead, one can see vertically elongated spots arranged in several rows. They can clearly contrast with the main color background, or they can be barely distinguishable. There are a pair of spots or stripes of dark color connecting with each other in the back of the head.

An interesting fact: Among the common copperheads there are melanistic snakes (painted almost black), but they are not common. the colors are brighter, and the pattern is contrasting. It is worth noting that the ornament on the body of the copperhead is not a characteristic feature, some individuals do not have it at all or it is too blurry.

So, the copperhead is often mistaken for a poisonous viper, let’s characterize their main differences:

  • the head of the copperhead is not clearly visible from the whole body, it is flat and merges with the body, there is a clear cervical transition between the body and the head of the viper;
  • the round pupil of the verdigris differs from the vertical pupil of the viper;
  • the scales of the verdigris are shiny and smooth to the touch, the body of the viper is ribbed, rough;
  • unlike the dangerous viper, copperhead is not endowed with poisonous teeth.

The teeth located on the upper jaw of the copperfish increase relative to the direction deep into the mouth. The scales located on the back are in the form of rhombuses or hexagons. Keels are visible on the scutes of the abdomen, which form ribs along its edges. There are 19 scales around the middle part of the body. On the abdomen, males have from 150 to 182 scutes, while females have from 170 to 200.

Where does the common copperhead live?

Photo: Copperhead in Russia

Photo: Copperhead in Russia

The distribution range of the common copperhead is very extensive, but the density of snakes in the territories they occupy is low. The snake has a residence permit in the vastness of Europe, and in Asia, and on the African mainland. It has been noted that the further north the range, the less reptiles are found.

An interesting fact: the common copperhead is not so easy to meet, compared to the viper and snake, it is considered a rarity.</em >

The territory of the permanent deployment of copperheads depends on the climate of a particular area. On European territory, this snake person lives in almost all areas, except for the Mediterranean islands, Ireland and northern Scandinavia. On the African continent, the copperhead has chosen its northern and western parts. In the vastness of Asia, the snake lives in the southern part.

Regarding our country, the copperhead prefers the southern regions of Russia. From the east, its range reaches southwestern Siberia, from the north & # 8212; to Kursk, Tula, Ryazan and Samara regions. In the territories of the Vladimir and Moscow regions, copperhead is extremely rare, literally, in single copies.

Copperhead lives in both coniferous and deciduous forests, loves pine thickets, but bypasses the large open spaces of the steppe zones. The snake feels safe among trees and bushes. She can settle in forest clearings, clearing places, dry puddles near the forest. Often, the reptile is found in mountain ranges, rising up to three kilometers, occupying bushy slopes there.

In those areas where vineyards grow, it is quite possible to meet copperhead. The snake loves rocky terrain, because boulders serve it not only as a reliable shelter, but also as a pedestal for warming up in the sun. Copperhead loves scree and rocky crevices. In our country, this reptile often inhabits railway embankments and forest areas. Copperhead occasionally, but you can meet right on the plot or in the garden. The snake loves soil with a lot of dry rotting foliage. But he tries to avoid very damp places.

Now you know where the common copperfish lives, let’s see what this non-poisonous snake eats.

What does the copperhead eat?

Photo: Copperhead from the Red Book

Photo: Copperhead from the Red Book

Lizards and mice are the most favorite snack for copperheads, the snake even often settles for the night in mouse holes.

The reptile menu consists not only of mice and lizards, you can see in it:

  • young snakes;
  • shrews, rats, mice, voles;
  • all kinds of insects;
  • toads and frogs;
  • small birds and their chicks;
  • common earthworms;
  • eggs of lizards and birds.

The specific diet of a particular individual depends on the places of permanent registration. The age of the reptiles also influences the range of dishes on the menu. Young individuals prefer lizards and slugs, while mature ones love to eat small mammals, especially mice.

Interesting fact: Among copperheads, such an unpleasant phenomenon as cannibalism is often traced.

While hunting, the copperfish leisurely explores the area around with its sensitive tongue, which scans the environment, catching the slightest smell of potential prey. By sticking out its tongue-scanner, the copperfish can detect the victim in any hidden place, even in absolute darkness.

As soon as the bite is detected, the reptile silently sneaks up to him and quickly bites with sharp teeth, clasping the body of the victim with his torso to perform a choke hold. The musculature of the snake body skillfully squeezes the victim so that she suffocates. So the copperhead comes only with a fairly large prey, and it immediately swallows the small one. The moisture necessary for the body, the copperhead receives from rain puddles, dew and all kinds of reservoirs located in the places of its residence.

It should be noted that, despite its small size, the copperhead does not suffer from a lack of appetite, it is very voracious . There are cases when three adult lizards were found in the stomachs of dead reptiles at once.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Copperhead

Photo: Copperhead

The copperhead is active and hunts during the day, because. loves warmth and sun. When it gets dark and cold, she prefers to sit in her hiding place. The reptile is quite conservative and constant; it remains to live in the shelter it has chosen for many years, and sometimes for the rest of its life. By their nature, copperheads are loners who prefer to live apart, occupying their own specific area. The reptile tirelessly protects this area from any competitors and is ready to pounce even on its closest relatives who have invaded its possessions. That is why two copperheads will never get along on the same territory.

Copperheads are excellent swimmers, but they are extremely wary of water and swim only when absolutely necessary. Slowness is another character trait of these reptiles, which manifests itself in the fact that when hunting, they prefer to sit in ambush and guard, chasing prey is not for them. The copperhead leads an active life for half of the calendar year, and the other half is in hibernation, into which it plunges in the fall with the onset of cold weather.

The copperhead loves to hide in tree thickets, so they choose forests, but they often equip their nests on open forest glades or clearings. This is because reptiles love to bask in the sun, so they choose places where sunlight hits.

Copperheads show aggression when they see a stranger on their territory, they fight fiercely and can even eat a defeated snake relative. For a person, a copperhead does not pose a particular danger, it can only catch up with fear, because people often mistake it for a poisonous viper. A copperhead can bite, but only because she herself is frightened. The reptile does not possess poisonousness, so you should not worry much. It is better to treat the bite site with an antiseptic solution so that no infection gets into the wound.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Baby Copperhead

Photo: Baby Copperhead

As it has already become clear, copperheads prefer to live in complete solitude, avoiding collective existence, jealously guarding their land ownership. Reptiles become sexually mature at the age of three, and some individuals even later. The wedding season for copperheads begins with the arrival of spring, when they awaken from their winter stupor. Before the next hibernation, the snake needs to produce offspring.

Interesting fact: Copperhead mating can also happen in the autumn right before hibernation. In this case, the cubs are born only next summer, and the spermatozoa remain in the body of the female until spring.

The partner stays with the female only for a short mating period, then they part with her forever, he does not take any part in the fate of his cubs. During intercourse, the gentleman holds the partner with the help of jaws by the neck area, and wraps himself around her body.

Copperhead cubs are born covered with egg shells. The expectant mother carries the eggs in utero until the moment when the embryos in them are fully formed and developed. Usually, in one brood there are about fifteen small kites. Almost immediately after birth, babies break through their shells, in which they are born. The length of small snakes does not exceed 17 cm, they are fully formed and independent.

Babies immediately leave their mother’s nest and begin their isolated snake life, hunting at first for all kinds of insects and small lizards. In the wild, copperheads live from 10 to 15 years. The lifespan of reptiles living in a terrarium is much longer, because the conditions there are much more favorable and there are no threats from outside.

Natural enemies of common copperheads

Photo: Copperhead from the Red Book

Photo: Copperhead from the Red Book

If large and poisonous reptiles already have many enemies, then it is not surprising that the copperhead, which is not so large in size and does not possess poisonousness, has plenty of them. Many animals and birds are not averse to eating this reptile. Among them are: ferrets, martens, wild boars, foxes, ermines, rats, ordinary cats. In addition to mammals from the air, predatory birds also attack copperfish from the air: white storks, owls, crows, vultures, snake-eagles.

Of course, newborn snakes and inexperienced young animals are the most vulnerable, for which even grass frogs and lizards are dangerous and small birds. The mother leaves the newborn cubs immediately after they are born, so there is no one to protect them.

In case of danger, the copperhead has its own defensive techniques, which she constantly uses. The reptile twists into a fairly dense ball, it hides its head inside this ball, making swift attacks towards the ill-wisher. At the same time, she lets out a hiss. In addition to this tactic, the copperfish has another defensive weapon – it is the fetid secretion of its cloacal glands, which the snake secretes when it feels threatened. Cannibalism among copperheads also happens, so reptiles can suffer from their closest relatives.

One of the most dangerous enemies of the copperhead can be considered a person who often kills this snake, mistaking it for poisonous and dangerous. Once in the hands of a person, the copperhead tries to bite in order to escape. Maybe because of this, it is confused with a poisonous reptile. The copperhead will not attack first, but bites a person only when it is very frightened, because all methods are good in the struggle for life.

Population and species status

Photo: Copperhead snake

Photo: Copperhead snake

Although the area of ​​​​settlement of the common copperhead is quite extensive, the population of this reptile is small. Copperheads are rare, because the density of their distribution is low. Herpetologists explain this with her food addictions. Lizards form the basis of the copperhead’s nutrition, and this kind of food base is not considered reliable compared to a variety of rodents and frogs. In those areas where the number of lizards is declining, the number of copperheads is also sharply decreasing.

Humans also have an impact on the population size of the copperfish. They try to kill her when they meet, mistaking her for a dangerous viper. In addition, violent human activity leads to a reduction in the permanent habitat of this small reptile. A person is gradually replacing the copperhead from its places of permanent residence, and this has an extremely negative effect on the population of the copperhead, because snakes lead a sedentary lifestyle and always try to stay on their territory, which they zealously protect.

As a result of this situation, the common copperhead in some states it is under protection, where its destruction and illegal capture are strictly prohibited. In our country, it is listed in the regional Red Books of some regions and a number of republics.

Protection of common copperheads

Photo: Copperhead in nature

Photo: Copperhead in nature

As a result of its small number, low density and rare occurrence, the common copperhead is under protection in the territories of various states where it is settled. In some European countries, laws have been introduced that strictly prohibit the capture of these snakes and their destruction. The common copperfish species is listed in Appendix II of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Wild Fauna and Flora and Natural Habitats.

As for our country, copperhead is in the regional Red Books of a number of regions and republics: Vologda, Ivanovo, Voronezh, Bryansk, Kaluga, Vladimir, Kostroma, Moscow, Kirov, Kurgan, Orenburg, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Ryazan, Tambov, Tver, Saratov, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Tula, Yaroslavl, Ulyanovsk. Copperhead is protected in the territories: Perm Territory, Kalmykia, Mordovia, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Chuvashia, Udmurtia. The species is listed in the appendix to the Red Book of the Penza region. In such neighboring countries as Belarus and Ukraine, the common copperhead is also listed in the Red Book.

As you can see, there is a rather large list of states, regions and republics where the common copperhead is protected. The main limiting factors for this species of reptiles are the reduction in the main food supply of copperfish (namely lizards) and the harmful actions of humans.

In conclusion, it remains to be added that although the copperfish is similar to a poisonous viper, it does not pose a danger to humans. The bite of a copperhead, contrary to all ancient beliefs, does not bring death to people, but is only its protective reaction. Meeting with this reptile is a rarity, so not everyone knows the copperfish. But in a terrarium, she easily gets used to a person and begins to trust him, taking food directly from her hands.

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