How to Identify a Baby Copperhead Snake (21 Pictures)

“How to identify a baby copperhead snake?” and “What does a baby copperhead look like?” are some of the most common questions that people have when it comes to identifying this species.

Picture Gallery Further Down on Page. [15 photos to help you identify a baby copperhead]

These are especially important questions for  any nature enthusiasts, frequent hikers, concerned parents or inhabitants of areas that snakes are known to inhabit.

Snake identification is one of the most important skills a person can have.

Knowing how to tell the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes commonly mistaken for one another could mean saving yourself a snakebite – and in many cases, even saving the snake itself.

Did you know that many nonvenomous snakes are often great for the environment? They can help keep rodent populations in check, and some are known to kill and eat various venomous snake species.

Even if you don’t know a lot about husbandry (breeding) or the daily habits of reptiles, it’s vital to know at least a little about snake identification.

Parents and guardians can also benefit from the peace of mind when passing this knowledge to their children so that they, too, can learn how to keep a keen eye when going out for a walk.

The Most Important Basics of Copperhead Snakes

First, let’s talk about the copperhead snake itself.

Here are some of the most important things you should know about baby copperhead snakes and how to handle them when you spot them.

Why are They Called Copperhead Snakes?

This species of snake is technically a type of viper, and fall under the same family as rattlesnakes and pit vipers. Further, the species derives their common name from the unique copper-colored head.

Their head, along with many other venomous snakes, takes on a somewhat triangular shape.

A snake with a triangle shaped head is the #1 best way to identify a venomous snake in the US. That said, there are other tropical snakes like Pythons and Boas that have spade-shaped heads.

Don’t be fooled, though. Pythons and Boas are totally safe to handle and are no danger to humans.

Copperheads unfortunately have a less defined spade shaped head. So, they are commonly mistaken for other species.

As for the name “Copper”, that comes from the color of the scales on their head.

Pretty on the nose, right?

This copper coloration tends to extend throughout the body, and sometimes these snakes will have a less defined stripe marking.

Sometimes, more or less the same description can be used for several different types of snakes. A lot of snakes in the US have a brownish color, hence the difficulty identifying copperheads with an untrained eye.

An Introduction to Where Baby Copperhead Snakes Can Be Found

Northern Copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix is a venomous pit viper found in Eastern North America

Copperhead snakes are common in large parts of the United States. 

Where adult snakes can be found, baby copperhead snakes are almost guaranteed to be around the same parts at their most active time of year. 

You are likely to spot a copperhead baby closer to habitats where they are found naturally. Babies and adults are commonly found in Texas, Missouri, or Georgia, North Carolina, and along the entire East Coast of the United States.

There are also instances of baby copperhead snakes found in unnatural areas where they might have escaped from captivity or during transit.

Do not forget the possibility of encountering venomous snakes outside of their usual territory.

According to official resources, there are four different varieties of copperhead snakes to look out for:

1. Northern

2. Northwestern

3. Southern

5. Southwestern

Why Look Out for Baby Copperhead Snakes?

All types of copperhead snakes are venomous. Even though their bite might not kill an adult human, it can pose very serious harm.

Moreover, a bite from a juvenile could be fatal to people with a compromised immunity or smaller children.

Copperheads Are More Active during This Time of Year

For the most part, Copperhead snakes can be found anywhere, at any time of the year.

When it comes to baby copperhead snakes, they are more likely to be seen during the last half of the year – from September forward. 

This is because copperhead mating tends to happen during these months. So, Baby Copperheads are much more likely to be found in the late summer/early fall.

That’s when you should be extra cautious if you live in an area where these snakes are prone to live.

Ideally, you should keep an eye out for snakes throughout the year. That said, you should also be more aware of the possibility of finding copperheads later in the year.

What You Need to Know About Baby Copperhead Snake Bites

Copperheads bites are one of the most common venomous snake bite occurrences in the US.

Fortunately, they aren’t that deadly. You should still be cautious around them, though.

baby copperhead snake getting ready to shed. Just look at it's eyes

Below, you’ll find out all you need to know about sustaining a bite from a baby copperhead.

How Dangerous is a Baby Copperhead Snake? 

Copperheads are venomous: This means that a copperhead bite (whether from an adult or baby) is likely to be harmful.

Further, any venomous snake bite should requires immediate medical attention. A bite could lead to permanent tissue and nerve damage or even worse.

If you think you have been bitten by a snake (but you aren’t sure which type), seek immediate medical attention. 

If you think you have spotted the type of snake which administered the bite, the same answer is true.

The fact you are able to identify the type of snake to the medical team means that you will receive the correct treatment much faster.

Snake identification is vital, and more information is at the disposal of the medical team to adminster the right treatment when you can identify what happened. 

Always treat any snakebite as an immediate medical emergency, regardless of whether it was an adult snake or not.

What Happens when a Juvenile Copperhead Bites?

If you have been bitten by a baby copperhead snake, the most important thing to remember is not to panic. 

Panic is your worst enemy in the case of any snake bite. Increasing the breathing and heart rate only means that any venom actually administered by the snake moves through your system faster.

Always stay calm for as long as possible. 

Then seek medical attention. 

A great deal of what you’ll read about snake bite first-aid relies on finding treatment as soon as possible after the event and staying calm until such help arrives.

Swelling is likely in the case of a baby copperhead snake bite.

It’s also likely to be painful. Swelling tends to increase, and damage to muscle, tissue and nerves due to the venom (where injected) is likely. Delays in medical treatment leads to an increase in the amount of damage the venom has timem to cause.

Never attempt to treat a snake bite yourself; this itself can prove to be fatal.

Infection control, swelling reduction and keeping vital signs steady are the most important factors when a snake bite is being medically treated.

Is a Bite from a Neonate Copperhead More Dangerous?

An increasing amount of research points to the fact that baby copperhead snake bites are no more dangerous than that of an adult.

Baby copperheads might inject more venom than their adult counterparts

But, many of the babies also inject no venom with their bite.

It’s impossible to tell which is which when the bite has happened.

And for this reason, treat all snake bites as the same serious type of emergency.

Identifying a Baby Copperhead (Pictures)

The next important things to cover when it comes to baby copperhead snakes is how to identify them.

This includes:

1. How to spot the difference between an adult and a juvenile baby copperhead snake.

2. Other snakes commonly mistaken for Copperhead babies.

3. Exactly how to identify a Baby Copperhead.

But first, here are the key factors you’ll want to look out for when identifying a baby copperhead snake:

  • A spade shaped head. Nearly all venomous snake species found in North America have a spade shaped head.
  • Narrow slit pupils. Copperheads have a narrow, long vertical pupil.
  • Snout pits. This species has several pits in their snout.
  • Hourglass shape. This may be the easiest way to identify a baby copperhead snake. Most of them will have horizontal hourglass shape.
  • Tail color. Typically, this species has a bright green colored tail.
  • Short, thick body. Many nonvenomous north american snakes are longer and more skinny. North American venomous snakes tend to be more thick and have more girth.

What Snakes are Most Commonly Mistaken for Copperheads?

There are several different, common (and usually non-venomous) snakes that are often mistaken for copperheads.

The same way, sometimes copperhead snakes can be mistaken for these entirely harmless snakes. This is obviously dangerous to anyone who might encounter one or the other!

Many common snakes are feared because people assume they are venomous. But at the same time, many venomous snakes are also overlooked (or badly handled) by non-experts who aren’t sure which snake they are dealing with.

Corn Snakes

Corn snakes are one of the most common types of snakes mistaken for a copperhead.

Due to the markings and coloration being approximately similar, it’s an easy mistake.

But, corn snakes do not have the exact same markings as a copperhead, and corn snakes do not share the slit in the eye that copperhead snakes have. 

Even though corn snakes are common everywhere, they are not the only type of snake that is often confused with a baby copperhead.

Hognose Snakes

Hognose snakes are often confused for copperheads. But again, look carefully for distinguishing features that you won’t notice with copperheads.

Simply put, hognose snakes are called hognoses due to the shape of their head.

Common Water Snakes

reddit | u/samkee00

Water snakes on the other hand aren’t nearly as identical to a close-up copperhead if you take a look at some baby copperhead pictures for a comparison.

Just see above — this is a totally harmless common water snake. It does look like a copperhead, though.

Common Brown Snakes | u/kammalot

Look dangerous?

Well, guess again. This is just a common brown snake, and it’s totally harmless. A giveaway here is the lack of the hourglass pattern.

Pictures of Baby Copperheads and Adult Copperheads

hidden baby copperhead climbing up tree | u/jtp_5000

Look closely.

It’s pretty scary how well these little fellas can camouflage.

This little baby copperhead is dead center of the tree — you can see the spade shaped head.

That’s one of the best ways to identify a baby copperhead snake.

tiny baby copperhead on some cement | u/Freya-The-Wolf

Another great example of a picture of a baby copperhead. You can basically see the venom gland “pockets” toward the back of it’s head.

vicious looking baby copperhead with leering eyes | u/GeNzSaDboi

Just look at those eyes.

In this baby copperhead picture, the eyes are totally noticeable.

The tiny slits of the eye of a copperhead are unique to the viper family of snakes. You’ll also commonly see the eyes in rattlesnakes.

Don’t get too close, though.

If you have to look at the eyes to determine whether it’s a copperhead or not, it’s best to stay clear so it doesn’t strike.

several baby copperheads on some leaves from a copperhead den | u/Sapphirebella

This is the stuff of nightmares. A den of baby copperhead snakes.

In this photo, you’ll see a common behavior of copperhead snakes. They tend to be social, and will often share dens with other copperheads.

So, if you find one of these fellas in your back yard, under a structure (like a shed or some rocks), chances are you could have a den of copperheads on your property.

At that point, it’s best to call an exterminator. | u/AssroniaRicardo

This image of a juvenile copperhead snake really shows their markings and semi-stripe pattern.

Note how the color of the head is slightly different than that of the body.

It’s pretty clear as to why they adopted their common name due to the copper tone of their head.

baby copperhead snake with a unique pattern, different from the standard stripes | u/PoppetFFN

Not all of them have such defined stripes, though.

Take a look at this one pictured above — it has a very unique pattern. | u/squishybloo

This juvenile pictured above is on the prowl. | u/brunseidon

Unfortunately, they are known to sneak inside. These unsuspecting office goers were met with an unpleasant venomous snake surprise one morning.

But hey, at least they knew what it was! | u/Unlikely-Dark

They don’t just sneak into offices.

Occasionally, they sneak into garages as well. If that happens, it’s best to call an expert in who can remove the curious snake for you. | u/DeathViaAstonishment

Apparently, baby copperheads like to climb. Just look at the one in the image above.

Common Markings

Copperhead snakes have a primary coloration that ranges between beige and brown. 

Together with this, you can expect to see hourglass markings over the body.

Sometimes, these hourglasses are closer to triangular markings in some specie. Also, you can expect to see borders around these hourglass markings. Many snakes of the same species can vary with patterns/looks, including copperheads.

Baby Copperhead Belly

Generally, the belly is beige to darker – but because copperhead snakes tend to move around when scared or startled, you might have better luck looking at some of their other physical features.

What the Tail Looks Like

If you think that you’ve spotted a baby, take a closer look at its tail.

A baby copperhead snake tail has a yellow tip, which later goes darker as the snake ages.

a baby copperhead snake luring a frog with it's bright green tail. Baby copperheads use their tail as a hunting tool, and the tail fades as they mature because they become better hunters as they grow.
You can see how this baby copperhead is attracting a frog with it’s bright greenish yellow tail.
You can see the tail of this baby copperhead starting to fade due to it maturing
When they get older, the green tail fades away. This is because they become more experienced hunters as copperheads mature.

It’s one of the most important and characteristic markings that you should learn to look for which  might help to distinguish the baby copperhead snake from the harmless corn snake at the same time of year.

The snake uses the tail as a means to catch prey: When snakes are hidden away, it might even resemble a wiggling bug.

Other Giveaways That identify a Baby Copperhead

Look at the eyes: Copperhead snakes have a slit in their eyes, one that can be likened to a cat.

This is a distinguishing feature that not all types of snakes have, and that can help to set a baby copperhead snake apart from some of its most common counterparts.

Removal and Prevention

The best way to remove a baby copperhead from your property is to call an expert.

While these snakes aren’t that dangerous, a bite from one will most certainly result in a hospital visit. It’s just not worth trying to remove them yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing.

So what do you do if you spot a copperhead on your property? Call an Expert!

As for prevention, there are several steps you can take to reduce the likeliness of seeing them on your property.

First, make sure all of your garage doors and entrances to your home are sealed. The last place you want a venomous snake is in your home.

Also, copperheads really like to hang out with each other in ‘dens’. A den could be under a trashcan, fallen log, elevated shed, wooden porch, etc.

So, if you reduce the amount of den areas on your property, that will lower the chances of baby copperheads showing up.

Here are some best practices for keeping copperheads off of your property:

  • Keep your grass cut and yard in shape
  • Remove any downed trees or large branches
  • Seal off any areas like underneath a porch or shed
  • Remove any large obstructions that a snake may want to burrow under

And remember — if you see one juvenile copperhead snake on your property, chances are there could be more.

Additional Facts about Copperheads

How should a Baby Copperhead Snake be Handled? 

Ideally, you should only handle snakes if you are experienced in doing so. Snake handling is a mixture of experience and knowledge – and learning how to do it safely comes with time.

If you encounter a baby copperhead snake anywhere, the single best thing that you can do is leave it be. 

Unless there is a very good reason to move or displace the snake, the best thing you can do to a snake found in the wild is nothing at all.

Where You’ll Likely Find Baby Copperheads

Juvenile copperhead snakes can be found all over the United States, although they are more prevalent in warmer areas.

Juvenile copperhead snakes are more likely to appear during the later half of the year. Most commonly, they come out in September through the fall.

Conditions are usually ideal for their hatching and growth during these months. So, you’ll likely run into this venomous snake more in the late summer early fall. 

Some of the more specific places where baby copperheads can be found: Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and surrounding states. There’s also the neonate Nothern copperhead.

And if you guessed the Northern states, you’d be right.

Remember that there is always a possibility of encountering snakes in areas that are not their natural habitat.

Sometimes, snakes can escape captivity – and in theory, this can happen anywhere.

Do They Play Dead?

Some types of snake species (such as the rinkhals) will “fake” being dead when attacked or startled, remaining motionless until someone gets too close.

Even though copperhead snakes aren’t known to habitually play dead in this way, anyone about to approach a snake should be extremely careful.

But wait — are Dead Ones Dangerous?

Deceased snakes, especially recent ones, are still able to execute a “bite”.

After they die, snakes muscles can still have reflexes . For this reason, always be careful when handling or disposing off a dead snake.

Especially if the dead snake is a venomous one.

Lastly, it’s a best practice to treat a dead copperhead with just as much respect and care as you would a live snake. 

Are they Musky?

Naturally, no copperheads do not emit a foul smell.

But copperhead snakes can emit a musk that some say smells like cucumbers.

Strange, right?

So, Do You Feel Confident about Identifying a Baby Copperhead?

You now should know all the info necessary to easily identify both baby and adult copperhead snakes.

They can commonly be mistaken for some other species, but, if you read thoroughly, you should be able to tell the key differences.

Think you’re 100% ready to identify a copperhead vs. one of their lookalikes?

Let us know! Comment below and tell us if you still have questions about spotting one of these venomous snakes that often turn up in our back yards.

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2 thoughts on “How to Identify a Baby Copperhead Snake (21 Pictures)”

  1. Thanks for the info; I had forgotten about the shape of the pupils. I was able to identify the baby snake on my hot water heater as a corn snake. It got to go outside and live another day . . . At least until the coyote finds it. It’s fresh out of (my) chickens, so it may have to switch to eating snake. I hear they taste like chicken.

  2. Very informative. Pretty cautious by Copperheads and Rattlers here in the Blue Ridge Mtns of NC. Thank you!


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