Menu Close

Readers Write In: Is This a West Virginia Copperhead or Something Else?

    A friend of mine caught this snake in a field about 30 yards from a small creek outside of Milton, Cabell Co. West Virginia. He sent me the photo and asked if I thought it was a Copperhead. I asked him to bring it to me so I could see it and help figure out what kind it was. I have caught and released a few snakes in my life, but I haven’t come across a snake that is as heavy bodied as this, except a Timber Rattler. 

    The snake is about 40″ long. My hand could only wrap around its body at the head and tail, and I would guess its weight to be between 6 and 8 pounds. In a feed bag, it felt like a gallon of milk. Maybe it is still carrying its young or full of Bullfrogs. It was captured and released the same day it was caught on the same farm. Can you help ID this snake? 
    Thank you for your time and helping solve this small mystery. I really like the website and have enjoyed reading about the different things on it. I have shared it with a few friends. Thanks again and have a great Friday and coming weekend. 

Paul and Ryan
Milton, West Virginia

    I’ve recently been spending time on Twitter helping people identify snakes (you can follow me by clicking on the button on the right sidebar). When I started, I thought I would see many cases of these animals (i.e., the species pictured above) being mistaken for Cottonmouths. But, I was surprised to find out that these animals are actually more often mistaken for Copperheads. Unfortunately, either way they are often killed as a result of this mistaken identity. 

    Kudos to Paul and Ryan for releasing this animal unharmed; I wish everyone thought of snakes the same way.

    Readers, what is this snake and how can it be differentiated from both Cottonmouths and Copperheads?