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Readers Write In: What is this Aggressive Snake on my Patio!?


I found your website and it has lots of great info, especially about snakes. So last night I found this snake on my patio.

I live in Alexandria Virginia, just outside Washington DC. I now realize it’s not a Copperhead, but also after reading your blog realize it’s not a Cottonmouth since you say they don’t range up this far in VA. It was about 2.5 feet long and quite fat in the body for scale.

So is this just a watersnake? There is a small stream behind my house that goes through the park so it could live there. It was VERY aggressive when I tried to capture it, striking at anything/everything that I put near it. I eventually coaxed it into a cardboard box (see pic) and let it go in the park behind my house. Would love to know what kind of snake it is in case I get a re-visit.

Thanks in advance,

Steve K.
Alexandria, VA

    I told Steve that I appreciated his environmental ethic, most people would have shot first and asked questions later, especially if there was concern that the snake could be a venomous species and it looked like there was a possibility of a bite.

  The snake Steve found has a bad reputation as a stinky and bitey creature, but I like to give them a little more credit. Check out the patterning on that snake. Beautiful. And, you can’t really blame an animal for reacting when you try to catch it! I prefer the term “defensive” to “aggressive” in these cases.

   What say you, Readers? Please identify this snake and while you are at it, be specific regarding why you do (or do not) believe the animal to be a Copperhead or Cottonmouth.