Copperheads Prolific in Northern Virginia this Season

copperhead-snakeIn nearby Fairfax County, officials have advised residents to beware of an unusually high number of copperhead snakes this season. An alert distributed last week warned that snake bites have been reported across Fairfax County in the Dranesville (Riverbend Park), Hunter Mill (Reston), and Springfield (Clifton) Districts. Concern is being raised because sightings of (and encounters with) copperheads typically do not peak until the period between August and October when baby copperheads are hatching.

Copperheads are venomous, pit vipers and are the most common venomous snake in the eastern US. They account for more cases of venomous snake bite than any of the other species in our area. Copperheads are usually colorful and strikingly patterned snakes. The snake was originally named for the copper like coloration on the dorsal side of its head. Adult copperheads range in size from 20 to 40 inches. While the copperhead snake is venomous and its bite very painful, a bite from a copperhead snake is generally not deadly, however it can be very serious for pets and small children.

In an effort to determine if this trend has manifested itself in Clarke County we contacted Jenny Wright of Clarke County Animal Control. She indicated that there has been no increase in sightings or incidents reported. However, given the rural nature of Clarke County, the incidents may not cause the same alarm that they do in other more urban counties and therefore, may not be reported.

So what is your experience? Have you seen a copperhead this year? Perhaps the numbers are up this year and Clarke County residents simply accept it as normal. We would like to hear from the residents of Clarke County to get an idea if there is a similar trend here.

And if you happen to have a chance encounter with a copper colored slithering viper, here’s some simple advice to see you through:

  • Stay calm
  • Do not apply a tourniquet
  • Keep body part immobilized and area level with heart
  • Seek immediate medical attention (nearest hospital)

Comments

  1. Jonathan Kettler says:

    I saw four copperhead snakes (2 adults, 2 juvenile) on River Road in Prince William County at about 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, 5/27. It’s not uncommon to see copperheads on our road after dark in the summer but not usually this early in the season. It’s very unusual to see more than two at a time.

    Jonathan Kettler
    [redacted]

  2. I am in Ladysmith, Caroline County, Virginia. I was bitten by a copperhead yesterday (June 26, 2010). When I presented at Spotsylvania Regional Hospital in Massaponax, I was told that I am the fourth copperhead “victim” this week and the second one yesterday. I and two others received either dry or minimal venom bites. One person was admitted to ICU and given anti-venom.

  3. Michelle says:

    jason, what was the treatment they gave you for a dry/minimal venom bite?

  4. don't worry says:

    It is very simple to avoid being bitten. Just use common sense and keep your wits about you.

  5. Ray Hodges says:

    I just had my dog almost get bit by a copperhead while walking him. I went back inside and grabbed the shotgun. He fled while I was inside but I tracked him and down and gave him his justice.

  6. Baby copperheads don’t hatch. Almost all pit vipers, including the copperhead, give birth to live young.