Eastern Copperhead

Agkistrodon contortrix


Copperheads are small to medium tan, peach, or light-orange colored vipers native to a wide range of the US. They range throughout the state of Mississippi outside of the coastline. Their colors and patterns are effective camouflage for the leaf-littered forests and swamp floors they inhabit. Dorsal patterning of the copperhead is often described as an “hourglass” or “Hershey’s kiss” shape, and is often broken down the middle in the southern populations in MS. This snake is venomous, and primarily feeds on small mammals or frogs. Juvenile’s may use their yellow tails to attract prey, an action called caudal luring. Its bite is very rarely life-threatening. The best way to safely avoid conflict with venomous snakes is to learn the few species Mississippi has and leaving them alone. Bites most often occur in the event one attempts to kill a snake.

Agistrodon contortrix crossing a road between swamps, Jackson Co. (MS)

Identifying Traits

  • Tan, orange, or peach coloration with dark “Hershey’s kiss” patterns on the sides.
  • Thin dark line behind eye


Bottomland forests and swamps


Nocturnal hunters in warmer months, occasionally seen active at dawn or dusk, juveniles use caudual lures (yellow tail) to catch prey.


Small mammals, frogs, emerging cicadas

Closeup of head, George Co. (MS)
Female post-partum, George Co. (MS)
Adult crossing a road, George Co. (MS)