Copperheads are also called highland moccasins, being closely related to water moccasins (cottonmouths). Copperheads live across the United States, from Massachusetts to Nebraska in the northwest and Florida and the Big Bend region of the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexico border.

Copperheads are less aquatic than their close relatives, although they do occasionally enter water. They are most often encountered in rocky areas, especially on hillsides - hence the species' alternative name - but also in lowland regions.

The copperhead is named after the solid copper of its triangular head. This colour continues along the rest of the body, where it is patterned with brown bands. Young copperheads have a bright yellow tip to the tail, which they use to lure frogs and lizards within striking range.

These snakes use heat-sensitive pits on their face to track prey at night. They inject prey animals with a venom that breaks down the victim's blood cells. Although the venom would eventually kill the prey, the snake does not wait for them to die but swallows them as soon as they are sufficiently subdued.

Distribution: Eastern United States to western Texas.

Habitat: Rocky outcrops in wooded areas.

Food: Small rodents, frogs and large insects.

Size: 56 - 135 cm (22 - 53 in).

Maturity: 2-3 years.

Breeding: Mating occurs in spring; about a dozen young are born in autumn.

Life span: About 18 years.

Status: Common.

Gallery of Copperhead