Agkistrodon contortrix - (Linnaeus, 1766)
Copperhead
Other English Common Names: copperhead
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Agkistrodon contortrix (Linnaeus, 1766) (TSN 174296)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.960824
Element Code: ARADE01040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Reptiles - Snakes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Reptilia Squamata Viperidae Agkistrodon
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Burbrink, F. T., and T. J. Guiher. 2014. Considering gene flow when using coalescent methods to delimit lineages of North American pitvipers of the genus Agkistrodon. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 173(2):505-526.
Concept Reference Code: A14BUR01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Agkistrodon contortrix
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 28Aug2006
Global Status Last Changed: 31Oct1996
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Oct1996)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S5), Arkansas (SNR), Connecticut (S3), Delaware (S1), District of Columbia (S1), Florida (S2), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S4), Indiana (SNR), Iowa (S1), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S1), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (S5), Nebraska (S2), New Jersey (SNR), New York (S3), North Carolina (S5), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S4), Pennsylvania (S3S4), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S5), Texas (S5), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S5)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The geographic range extends from southern New England to northern Florida, and west through the southern Great Lakes states and southern Iowa to southeastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, central Oklahoma, western Texas, and the extreme portions of northern Coahuila and eastern Chihuahua (Conant and Collins 1991, Ernst and Ernst 2003, Campbell and Lamar 2004). Elevational range extends from near sea level to above 1,500 meters.

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a very large number of occurrences (subpopulations) (Campbell and Lamar 2004).

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 100,000.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: No major threats are known. Locally, habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation probably have resulted in declines in copperhead abundance.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, and number of subpopulations probably are relatively stable; population size may be slowly declining (less than 10 percent over 10 years or three generations).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) The geographic range extends from southern New England to northern Florida, and west through the southern Great Lakes states and southern Iowa to southeastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, central Oklahoma, western Texas, and the extreme portions of northern Coahuila and eastern Chihuahua (Conant and Collins 1991, Ernst and Ernst 2003, Campbell and Lamar 2004). Elevational range extends from near sea level to above 1,500 meters.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Hartford (09003)*, Middlesex (09007)*, New Haven (09009)*
DE New Castle (10003), Sussex (10005)
FL Calhoun (12013), Escambia (12033)*, Gadsden (12039), Jackson (12063), Liberty (12077), Okaloosa (12091), Santa Rosa (12113)
IA Davis (19051)*, Lee (19111), Van Buren (19177), Wapello (19179)*
MA Essex (25009)*, Hampden (25013), Hampshire (25015), Norfolk (25021)
NE Gage (31067), Jefferson (31095), Richardson (31147)*
NJ Bergen (34003), Hunterdon (34019), Morris (34027), Passaic (34031), Somerset (34035), Sussex (34037), Warren (34041)
PA Adams (42001), Bedford (42009), Bucks (42017), Centre (42027), Cumberland (42041), Dauphin (42043), Fayette (42051), Franklin (42055), Schuylkill (42107), Somerset (42111), Union (42119), Westmoreland (42129)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Middle Connecticut (01080201)+, Lower Connecticut (01080205)+*, Charles (01090001)+, Quinnipiac (01100004)+*
02 Rondout (02020007)+, Lower Hudson (02030101)+, Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+, Raritan (02030105)+, Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+, Chincoteague (02040303)+, Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna (02050107)+, Lower Susquehanna-Penns (02050301)+, Lower Susquehanna-Swatara (02050305)+, North Branch Potomac (02070002)+, Conococheague-Opequon (02070004)+, Western Lower Delmarva (02080109)+, Pokomoke-Western Lower Delmarva (02080111)+
03 Lower Ochlockonee (03120003)+, Lower Chattahoochee (03130004)+, Apalachicola (03130011)+, Yellow (03140103)+, Blackwater (03140104)+, Escambia (03140305)+*
05 Conemaugh (05010007)+, Lower Monongahela (05020005)+, Youghiogheny (05020006)+
07 Flint-Henderson (07080104)+, Lower Des Moines (07100009)+
10 Tarkio-Wolf (10240005)+*, Big Nemaha (10240008)+*, Lower Big Blue (10270205)+, Lower Little Blue (10270207)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Most copulations occur in spring and late summer-early fall. Births occur mainly in August or September in most areas, but may occur as early as July or as late as November in some areas. In Kansas, individual females evidently give birth usually in alternate years, July-early October; males sexually mature in 2nd summer, most females in 3 years (Fitch 1960). In southern Texas, individual females may produce young in consecutive years (Vermersch and Kuntz, 1986, Snakes of south central Texas, Eakin Press, Austin). Litter size up to 21 (most often 4-8) in east and north, average of 5.3 in Kansas, usually not more than 3-4 in Trans-Pecos subspecies PICTIGASTER.
Ecology Comments: Hibernates communally (especially in north) or singly. In Kansas, population density in fall was estimated at about 13/ha, with perhaps 2-4 times this many under optimal conditions; home range size was about 10 ha for males and 3.4 ha for females (Fitch 1960).
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: May migrate up to several hundred meters (232-1183 m in Kansas) between winter den and summer range (Fitch 1960). Typically uses same den in successive years.
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cliff, Desert, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Old field, Savanna, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Copperheads are often in or near deciduous forest in hilly situations, usually in the vicinity of rock outcrops; they occur also on floodplains and at edges of swamps in the south and in mesic situations near water in the arid west. Hibernation generally occurs in dens among rocks, or in caves, animal burrows, under objects, in hollow logs or stumps, or in similar sites. Usually copperheads area in areas with abundant surface cover such as rocks, logs, stumps, or leaf litter. They are mainly terrestrial but sometimes climb into vegetation up to a few meters above ground. In the east at least, gravid females select rocky areas that are more open and have warmer soil temperatures than those used by nongravid individuals (Reinert, cited by Ernst 1992).
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore
Food Comments: Opportunistic; diet includes small mammals, small snakes, lizards, amphibians, insects, and small birds (Fitch 1960, Ernst 1992). Gravid females usually do not eat. Apparently uses mainly a sit-and-wait foraging method.
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Diurnal in spring and fall, mostly nocturnal in summer. Summer evening showers may stimulate activity. Active from April to late October or November in north (Fitch 1960). Active March to November or December in south; may emerge on warm days in winter. In eastern Texas, peak activity occurred April-July and September-October (Ford et al., 1991, Southwest. Nat. 36:171-177).
Length: 135 centimeters
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Venomous, and many humans are bitten each year (as a result of contact with immobile, unseen snakes), but the bite is almost never fatal (Ernst 1992).
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway or highway with obstructions such that snakes rarely if ever cross successfully; major river with consistently fast flow; densely urbanized area dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Copperheads are relatively sedentary, though they may migrate up to at least several hundred meters (232-1183 m in Kansas) between the winter den and summer range (Fitch 1960). In Kansas, first-year young made movements as far as 1 km; typical home range size was about 10 ha for males and 3.4 ha for females (Fitch 1960). An elliptical, 10-ha home range would be substantially less than 1 km in maximum dimension. However, dispersal has not been adequately studied, and it is likely that over the long term significant numbers of individuals of this long-lived species move farther than typical summer-winter migration distance.

Separation distance for suitable habitat reflects the likely low probability that two occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent truly independent populations over the long term.

Separation distance for suitable habitat is approximately five times the maximum known movement for the species.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 1 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Inferred extent distance pertains to hibernacula.
Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 28Aug2006
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 28Aug2006
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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