Time to Beware of Copperheads (I’m not Talking Politics)

Hmmm — I just learned that it turns out where I live in Carolina is smack-dab in the center of the Copperhead Heartland USA.

We already have some black snakes in the back yard, which I’m told are harmless. I hope that’s right because a few times each summer the cat brings a baby one in, wiggling in her jaws like crazy.

Kitty — not much of a snake eater.

Kitty knows how to catch them, but not what to do with them (evidently they don’t taste like the mice or voles she also favors), so she drops them on the floor, briefly regards their writhing with bemusement, and turns to the dry cat food in a bowl on a bookshelf.

That leaves it it to me and  the Fair Wendy to chase them down and toss them back into the loving green arms of Mother Nature.

But hey, that’s life in the medium-sized city next to a woodsy park. And now, courtesy of the Washington Post, I get to think about copperheads too. Definitely a snake of a different color (scheme)

From the Washington Post:

Copperheads are out in the Mid-Atlantic region. Here’s what to know.

Yards near wooded lots have the best chance of harboring copperheads, but the snakes thrive in many suburban and urban areas

By Kevin Ambrose
 — May 31, 2022

Temperatures are heating up, and snakes are out. One venomous snake is exceptionally well-hidden in our yards and gardens: the copperhead.

Copperheads received their name from the color of their head, but the rest of their body has shades of tan and brown in hourglass patterns, providing excellent camouflage in mulch, leaves, stonework and woodpiles.

The [copperhead is an] ambush hunter & usually remains motionless for long periods, making it even harder to notice when strolling through the yard or working in the garden. And if you get too close, the snake can feel threatened and strike without warning.

Their bite usually requires medical attention, sometimes with antivenom treatments.

Copperheads in your backyard

The range of copperheads in the United States. (Virginia Herpetological Society)

Copperheads thrive across much of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions (definitely including the Carolinas, except the higher mountains) although climate models suggest that rising global temperatures could be pushing populations as far north as Michigan and New England by 2050.

[“M]ost people are intolerant of any snake and kill them regardless if they’re venomous or not. However, copperheads, if left alone, are tolerant to some habitat disturbance and can thrive in some urban areas. I have them in my backyard,” J.D. Kleopfer, a herpetologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, wrote to The Washington Post.
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