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PK Fanatic
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I hear people all the time tell me about how they killed a copper head, and I always tell them it was likely a harmless milk snake, 99 percent of the time they still say it was a copper head.

Today I stopped by a family friends house and he told me he killed a copperhead. I asked if he knew the marks on a copperhead, and he said yes. He was completely confident that it was a copperhead and so I had him show me where it was; turns out, it was just a little 1 foot milk snake. I told him the differences and the identifying features of a copperhead. He later felt bad that he killed a harmless snake.

I want to make sure that you all know the difference between a milk snake and a copperhead, so I will explain the differences.

Milk snakes

milk-snake-head-small.jpg


milk-snake-body-small.jpg


milk_snake.jpg


MilkSnake1.jpg


Copperhead Snakes

northern_copperhead2.jpg


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Now for the differences:

First off, copperheads tend to be a much fatter and thicker snake then the slender milk snake.

Copperheads have an arrow shaped head, milk snakes do not. All venomous snakes have an arrow shape head, except the coral snake), all non-venomous snakes have the slender head, except the northern water snake.

Milk snakes have blotches that can range from red, to brown or tan; copperheads have bands that go all the way around the body, and the bands get narrow where they cross the vertebrae, and wide on the sides.

Personally, I love snakes, and that is why I took the time to find images and write this up. I would never kill a snake on purpose, even a venomous one; I think you should all do the same. I know that some of you are deathly afraid of snakes, and will kill them regardless, but just remember that all you are doing is hurting your local ecosystem and also killing an animal that has done nothing wrong. I know that a lot of you are going to continue killing them, but make sure that what you are killing is actually the venomous copperhead, and not a harmless milk snake!

Please, I do NOT want to hear your story about the evil snake you chopped up with the shovel because it chased you down. I do not want to hear the story about the evil snake that you saw and went to get the tractor so you could run it over with the mower deck. PLEASE! I do not want to hear any stories about a snake that you intentionally killed!
 

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Super Moderator
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Thanks for posting this Ryan. We don't have any venomous snakes here, at least not yet. I didn't realize that there were copperheads in NY state. The head is the big clue for me. The arrow shaped head is characteristic of venomous snakes and probably has to do with the venom sack, teeth and the muscles necessary to deliver the venom. We have garter snakes here and they are harmless to humans. They help get rid of insects. Last year I was admiring the roses on a large rugosa rose bush out back and there was a small snake staring right at me. It had climbed into that prickly rose bush to a height of 5ft and was sunning itself on the end of a branch.
 

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the homeless tractor hoarder
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5,248 Posts
I, too, like snakes.

Four or five times a year I find a black snake while mowing and have been known to hop off the tractor and pick them up and take them into the house to allow the MRS. a chance to "pet" the snake. She is not a fan! Sometimes they smell so bad I can't stand to pick them up but I always release them out of harms way.

Lots of field mice here too. Now a mouse I will try to mow or otherwise drive over. Not because I am scared of them but they are very destructive.

Thanks Ryan for the useful info!!!
 

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Please, I do NOT want to hear your story about the evil snake you chopped up with the shovel because it chased you down. I do not want to hear the story about the evil snake that you saw and went to get the tractor so you could run it over with the mower deck. PLEASE! I do not want to hear any stories about a snake that you intentionally killed!

I have NO comment.
 

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Live long and prosper
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6,794 Posts
Ryan, thank you for that very informative post. I learned something.

I hope you get some good results by educating us. Thanks.
 
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Collecter
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I myself do not like snakes,but if you leave them alone they will leave you alone.I am just always on guard this time off year when i go to move something that is setting in my yard.We have already seen 3 copperheads in our yard,and yes they were Copperheads.found one in the house last year about this time
 

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I agree, I do not like killing wild snakes, they are too beneficial with the small vermin. Luckily we rarely get copperheads up our way and also a water moccasin will wonder north. I also noticed on your pics, the milk snake has more bands, but the copperheads patterns are more random, kind of like leafy camo. I knew of the head shapes.

Wished we could afford to feed them, my son and I would love to have a corn snake of some type.
 

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Mower Extraordinaire
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599 Posts
We have so many hawks around the house I do not have to take care of them. I have lived in my house for 2 years in the middle of basically 100 acres and have only seen Worm snakes and snakes skins. I think they pretty much stay in the fields were rats and baby rabbits are. As long as they are not trying to get into the house or messing with my animals snakes are good with me. The only time snakes scare me are when they are very close to me and it startles me. If I can't hold my thumb out and cover it's whole body that means I am way to close to it.
 

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Proud to be Deplorable
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Ryan,
Isn't there something with the eyes too? As in the copperhead has "cat" eyes and the milk has round?

As for John Q. Snake... I try to give them all the room they want, once in a while I am surprised by one and the neighbors question my masculinity with the dancing, but as a rule anything they eat I don't want around and that makes them the "Enemy of my Enemy" ergo, "Friend"

Just don't ask me to hug one. :D
 

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Tractorholic
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3,097 Posts
Ryan, these are the snakes I grew up with. It is perhaps not fair to compare them to snakes in the US, but my reactions stem from lessons learned in childhood. I don't go out of my way to hunt and kill snakes, but I will not have them around my house with my kids either. Check out my "rogues gallery" from childhood.

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Spitting Cobra-Reports from people I trust tell of venom placement directly on windows and in one case a pair of glasses. Keep well away.

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Black Mamba. One of the deadliest snakes in the world, highly aggressive. The "arrow" shape of the head is not very emphasized.

800px-Eastern_Green_Mamba.jpg


Green Mamba. Much shyer than its black cousin, but rather poisonous in its own right. "Arrow" shape of head not very pronounced.

Boomslang.jpg


Boomslang. The tree snake. A timid snake, bites to humans generally occur when people attempt to handle the snake. Potentially deadly hemotoxin.

Now, not every venemous snake hid its identity like the ones mentioned above. The puff adder was also indigenous to the area. A young friend of mine was bitten by a night adder, and I came within a hairs breadth of being bitten myself.

220px-Kopf_einer_Puffotter.JPG
 

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Premium Member
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Every year at Boy Scout long term summer camp the staff collects and takes care of any snake found in camp. 1800 boys a session, six sessions per summer, that is a lot of potential snake encounters in the woods of Boy Scout camp (H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation), which is located close to the Ozarks along the Osage River near Oceola, Missouri Lots of hills and hollers and rocks and creeks and fields and so on. The camping areas (three of them) take up about 600 acres of the 4600 acres of the Scout camp. The staff only bothers with the snakes seen around the camping areas. They do it for merit badge work and so the boys aren't harmed by the snakes, but mostly so the snakes are not harmed by the boys. On Family visit day each session they allow visitors to see them too. At the end of the summer after the last session they turn all the snakes loose back where they were found. ALOT of copperheads are usually collected, along with a few coachwhips, garter snakes, black snakes, etc. And always at least 2 or three rattlers. The hospital in Oceola is not a real big hospital, but they are experts at taking care of snake bite! Boys are curious, and at least 1 or 2 end up at the hospital for it every summer. Usually it is from trying to pick up a copperhead...we tell them over and over if they see one in the path to let an adult leader know so they can contact the staff to take care of it, but.....boys do not always listen!
 

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Anything Red . . .
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Now, not every venemous snake hid its identity like the ones mentioned above. The puff adder was also indigenous to the area.

Just so there is no mistake; in America the harmless Hog-Nosed Snake is also called a Puff Adder. I had one for a short time in camp. :D They make great pets.
 

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Ryan,
Isn't there something with the eyes too? As in the copperhead has "cat" eyes and the milk has round?

:D
if you look in the last picture up top, you can see the eye slits, most posionous snakes have them, but I'm telling you right now.....I am not getting close enough to make a posionous determination on what kind of eyes it's got :D
 

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Mower Extraordinaire
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599 Posts
Well.. I guess yesterday when I said that I have not see a snake around my house I should have knocked on wood. Every morning I wake up and look outside to see what kind of wide life is stirring. Today I looked out and seen a Red Eared Slider Turtle making its way into the back yard. I figured since my little girl has never seen a turtle I'd make it a educational moment. I went outside and picked up the turtle and moved it to a flat patio area in our back yard. Of course the turtle stayed in its shell the whole time. I picked up my little girl an stood behind this wood pile hoping that she would see the turtle out of its shell. While standing there my cats kept trying to get inside the wood pile and thy would not stop. When I looked inside I seen the beginning of a snake skin and the snake was still crawling out of it. Once I seen this I picked my little girl up and came inside. I have not had the opportunity to teach her about snakes and she likes to put her hands on everything. I have showed her pictures and tried to teach her but I'd rather find one outside and teach her that way. Then she can see which side bites, how you know they are about to strike, and most of all leave a snake alone!
 
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