For people that do not get into the woods very much, getting a copperhead and a water moccasin mixed up might be an easy thing to do. So what this article is going to do is give a basic run down on both types of snakes.
The examples that are going to be covered are from my own personal experiences from being in the wilderness and not from scientific studies. So take this information as opinion and not as fact.
The snake in the picture is a medium sized cottonmouth, I have seen them a lot larger then that. One cottonmouth my buddies and I killed and measured – it was close to 4 feet long and as big around as a mans wrist.
Cotton mouths have a head big enough to grab onto your leg, your arm,,, just about anywhere.
Cottonmouth Water Moccasin
The Cottonmouth Water Moccasin can be easily confused with a water snake. They have almost the same exact color pattern. One has a round head and the other has a diamond shaped head.
From what I have noticed, you have a good chance of finding a Cottonmouth Water Moccasin where there is still, standing, shallow water – like a bog, bayou or slough. That is because of the frogs. Frogs like shallow water with mud so they can hide. The snakes will get up on the banks and wait to ambush the frogs.
The cottonmouth can be easily confused with the non-venomous Water Snake.
Copperheads rarely get over 2 feet long, and no thicker on about 1/2 – 3/4 inch, and are a copper color instead of black.
Copperheads have a small head for eating insects, as compared to the cotton mouths larger head for eating bull frogs and anything else.
Copperheads mostly bite around the toes and fingers – this is because they have a small head and bite where they can get a good grip. Most bites from copperheads are from people picking them up and handling them. This might also be why most bites are on the fingers or toes. Toes from people stepping on the small snake, and fingers from people picking them up.
During the fall the copper color of the copperhead blends in with brown leaves on the forest floor. So its easy for people not to see them.
Most of the time copperheads will be found under a log, under a piece of tin, under a piece of plywood, or next to a log. In other words they like to get under stuff. I think it might be because hawks and other large birds eat copperheads, but I’m not sure on that.