Sunday, April 3, 2011

Copperheads - Don't Tread on Me

I just read an article in the April 2011 Wildlife in North Carolina magazine titled don't tread on me. The article is about all of the species of poisonous snakes in North Carolina. By far the poisonous snake you are most likely to encounter is the copperhead. At least that is what the statistics seem to indicate. Here are a few of the stats from 2008 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).

In 2008 the AAPCC reported 3,192 snakebites in the US of which 509 occurred in NC. During that year the Carolinas Poison Center (CPC) in Charlotte reported envenomations from 233 copperheads, 15 cottonmouths, 17 rattlesnakes, 73 unknown pit vipers (rattlesnakes, copperheads, or cottonmouths), and 5 exotic snakes kept as pets. Statistically NC comes in  with approximately 5.5 snakebites per 100,000 people. At this rate our state comes in as one of the most likely locations to have an unpleasant encounter with a poisonous snake (likely a copperhead). We're right there at the top with Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida.

This time of year is when we all venture out to enjoy the warmer weather, work in the garden, and any number of other outdoor activities. As a resident of this state with a long history with copperheads I advise that you please be careful and pay attention when you might be in a potential scenario for an encounter. It can be as simple as moving some stuff around that has been stored outside or slipping outside in the dark barefooted to let the dog out. Please pay attention and put your shoes on. 


  1. Wow - thanks so much Ray! I am so scared of snakes. I'm definitely on watch during the summer when I'm out with my girls. We have a creek on our property and I have been reluctant to go down there w/ them by ourselves. I remember one time we were tubing on Wilson Creek and I saw THE MOST water snakes I have ever seen in my life!

    Do you know if it is true that having a black snake around the house keeps poisonous snakes away?

  2. I've always heard black snakes keep other snakes away. I'm not sure if this is truth or a bit of urban legend. Be especially careful around pine straw and fallen leaves during warmer months late in the day. Copperheads are almost impossible to see in their native surroundings and are usually active late in the day.