Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster
Franklin Co., Missouri. Spring 1973
My first venomous snake. I was still in junior high school when my science teacher, Donald Keutzer, took me ‘snake hunting’ out in the wilds of Franklin County. Among many other ‘firsts’ on that adventure, a pair of Osage copperheads were found coiled underneath a large flat rock. The memory of lifting that rock and seeing those beautiful serpents is etched deeply on my memory, and each time I find a copperhead under a rock, I recall that first experience.
Osage copperheads are the most common venomous snake in Missouri. They inhabit rocky hillsides (including cedar glades), deep woods, edges of fields, and suburban back yards. In the hot summer months I have found them in creek beds near water. They are inoffensive snakes, preferring to lie still and rely on their cryptic pattern to protect them. I can only wonder at how many unseen copperheads I have passed by.
NOTE: I have not followed the Agkistrodon synonomies of Burbrink & Guiher 2014, pending further studies making use of appropriate sample sizes.
HerpMapper records for this species are here.