Deep Diving Copperheads

Thread starter #1
I threw a crawfish/minnow trap off the end of dock in approximately 5 to 6 feet of water. Baited with canned cat food. Came back 48 hours later and there was a dead 4- copperhead in it. Must have smelled the bait, swam down, gotten stuck in the trap and drowned. I've seen them around water before but never knew they went 5-6 feet underwater to hunt. Smelled like pinkiepinkiepinkiepinkie!
 
#3
I have seen them around ponds while fishing, and even
in the water...
Found dead one by our mailbox last week...Think I might
have got him with the weedeater when I cleaned the
ditch culvert pipe last week...Did not look like he was hit
by a car...Had Lab bit by something 2 weeks ago...Nose
and lip swelled up on one side...Probably the snake, but
not much damage to my pup...Maybe a dry bite....
 
Thread starter #4
I like the natural world in general and people say that snakes keep the rodents away BUT I'd rather see a mouse than a poisonous snake AND I have two small kids. I just never knew they could swim so deep.
 
#5
Not to be contrary, but have you ever heard of a highland moccasin?? Older people who lived closer to nature than do we today called the Copperhead a "Highland Moccasin".

I do not think it to be just coincidental that they called them thusly. My own experience has demonstratedThat they are not at home in bodies of water.

It would not be unusual for a Copperhead, or any snake for that matter, to cross a stream or even a lake in event he wanted to be on the other shore. Going under water for his feed would be some feat for him.

Copperheads normally feed on mice, voles, lizzards, frogs, and insects. All of these prey are plentiful on dry sites where the Copperhead is likely to be found.

I would suspect that your snake was the common Banded Water Snake. Their markings and their coloration are somewhat similar, yet there are some striking differences. The shape of the head is quite different with the Copperhead being a pit viper.

Just something to think about.
 
Thread starter #6
It was a Copperhead. I've decapitated enough with a hoe (4 this summer alone) to be able to recognize them. They are pale brown and splotched with a thick arrow pointed head. The Banded is much smaller and much darker. Of course his decomposition could have changed the color! hmmm

The definition of moccasin = venomous semiaquatic snake of swamps in southern United States That alone should tell you they like the water but I've never heard of one going underwater to eat. Maybe you are right.
 
#7
big john h said:
"It was a Copperhead. I've decapitated enough with a hoe (4 this summer alone) to be able to recognize them. They are pale brown and splotched with a thick arrow pointed head. The Banded is much smaller and much darker.

The definition of moccasin = venomous semiaquatic snake of swamps in southern United States That alone should tell you they like the water but I've never heard of one going underwater to eat. Maybe you are right".
John: The Copperhead is not pale brown, but rather is copper colored and can be somewhat glossy.

The banded water snake adult is rather large at over four feet long. A Copperhead seldom exceeds 3 feet in length.

The Water Moccasin is truly an aquatic snake, seldom seen very far from water. The Moccasin is separate and distinct from either the Copperhead or the Banded Water Snake. My earlier reference was to the "Highland Moccasin" which was a common name for Copperhead in some locales.
 

shaggybill

Senior Member
#8
Vernons right (as usual) on this one. While copperheads aren't averse to swimming across a creek or such, diving underwater for a food item would be incredibly out of character for one. Water snakes, on the other hand, are commonly seen underwater searching for prey.

Check out some comparison pictures of copperheads and water snakes. They can be diffucult to distinguish to the untrained eye, but if you examine them closely, you can tell pretty easily.

Also, a lot of snakes will display a triangular shaped head when in a defensive mode. Water snakes especially have very triangular heads when on the defense.

For instance, check out this photo of a copperbelly water snake from KY. It's not my picture, just to be clear.



Here's another water snake. I bet most people would identify this as a copperhead, but it's actually just a northern water snake.

 
Thread starter #9
You guys are probably right but the Copperhead is pale. It has brown and rust colored markings but the main skin is much paler then many people think.
 
#10
Yup, you're right. Southern Copperheads especially can be very pale, but the Northern subspecies, which is found in N. GA, can be pretty dark.

Here are a couple of pictures for comparison. This is a Southern Copperhead from south-east NC.


This is a Northern Copperhead from east Kentucky.


While pretty much all of the southern subspecies are very pale, in the northern subspecies, light colored snakes are not uncommon. Here is another northern copperhead from east KY, found 75 feet from the one above. Look how different the coloring is.



And here is a reddish-colored copperhead from Red River Gorge in KY, found a mile away from the two above.
 
#13
I find Water Moccasins and varies water snakes and small turtles in my crawfish baskets. They go in to eat one of their natural prey (Crawfish), and can not get out.

It's bad when the snake is still alive. Especially if it is a Water Moccasin.
 
#15
Very interesting. I had no idea there was such a wide variety of coloration in the species.
 
#16
Venomous snakes....

......to distinguish between the harmless and the Venomous, it's all in the eyes. Venomous snakes have slits for pupil's (like cat eyes). Harmless snakes have rounded pupils like you and I. The red bellied water snake has been acused of being a Moccasin or Cottonmouth more than a few times, but check his eyes, if they are round pupils, go ahead and snatch him up and play with him a few minutes, then release him! Also look at a Viper in the water, they float(ride high) at rest. A common watersnake or non-viper will appear to be on the surface, but at rest the lower 2/3 rds of his body will sink. Saw a Venomous snake crossing a pond once and was shot at with a .22, he heard the bullet strike the bank opposite where the shot was fired, he coiled up on the surface facing the shore where the bullet made the noise and ready to strike. 5 people saw this, including myself!!!!!
 
#17
To add.....

.....the Eastern Coral snake may be the only Venomous snake in North America with rounded pupils. So don't confuse it with the other harmless snakes. If you are lucky enough to witness a Coral snake, just remember...............
If.."Red touches Yellow..can Kill a fellow."
.." Red touches Black...can't Kill Jack."
 
#18
.....the Eastern Coral snake may be the only Venomous snake in North America with rounded pupils. So don't confuse it with the other harmless snakes. If you are lucky enough to witness a Coral snake, just remember...............
If.."Red touches Yellow..can Kill a fellow."
.." Red touches Black...can't Kill Jack."
Dont care about the eyes...I see a snake, it dies.

Dan
 
#19
A juvenile water moccasin very much resembles a copperhead also. The pattern is different,but the color si similar. Easiest way to identify a moccasin is the dark stripe than runs along each side of the head right through the area where the eye is.

Always heard that the Moccasin was the most aggressive snake but most I've encountered always tried to go the other way. I have read and been told that the copperhead is much more the aggressor. I do know that when stepped on , run over, or otherwise molested they will strike wildly and repeatedly.
 
#20
When I fished the Altamaha regularly, I would run into water mocassins that were either aggressive or would not give way, like when you were trying to get up in a slough.

On a big mocassin, there is no mistaking the head, and esepecially when he opens his mouth. That white mouth against a dark background makes an excellent target.
 
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