Copperheads: What to Do If in the Yard

Although copperhead snakes are venomous, their bites are not necessarily fatal to humans. Knowing how to react when you find a copperhead in your yard can save you or your family a painful visit to an emergency room, and possibly save the life of a small household pet. First, you must identify the snake. As their name suggests, these snakes have copper-colored heads. Their thick-bodies are tan or pinkish in color everywhere else.

Venomous copperhead snakes should be given a wide berth whenever possible.

Copperhead Habitat

Copperheads range throughout the eastern and southern U.S.. They are at home at upper elevations as well as in swamps and lowlands. Adaptable to suburban neighborhoods, copperheads may be found sunning themselves on rocks or tree stumps during the day and foraging at night. Known as opportunistic feeders, copperheads eat lizards, small mammals, insects, birds and even other snakes. If a small cat or dog wanders into its path, a copperhead's bite can kill.

Give Copperheads Distance

If you encounter a copperhead in your yard, give it plenty of room and do not attempt to catch it or kill it yourself. Copperheads bite more humans than any other venomous snake, but their venom is less dangerous than that of many other snakes. A copperhead bite causes pain and sickness and can leave scars. A threatened copperhead will adopt a threatening pose and appear ready to strike. Generally, copperheads attempt to escape when disturbed, but you can't count on that behavior if you run across a snake in your yard.

Whom to Call

If you encounter a copperhead in your yard, call your local animal control office to see if they will come and pick up the snake. If the agency doesn't handle snakes, it can usually direct you to an animal handler who can help remove the snake from your yard. Local authorities sometimes contract with wildlife rescue agencies or pest removal companies to handle snakes. Keep an eye on the snake from a safe distance so you can direct the snake catcher to the right spot.


If you see a snake in the yard, keep your children and pets away from the area. If neighborhood children use your yard as a popular travel path, stay outside while the snake is in the open to direct kids and anyone else in the area away from your lawn. If you, your kids or anyone else has been bitten by the copperhead, get immediate medical attention even if the damage appears minor.

James Roland

James Roland started writing professionally in 1987. A former reporter and editor with the "Sarasota Herald-Tribune," he currently oversees such publications as the "Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor" and UCLA's "Healthy Years." Roland earned his Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Oregon.