Northern copperhead

ROMNEY — It’s Copperhead season in Hampshire County. Copperheads are a poisonous snake variety that frequents the area in late August. The Northern copperhead can be found from Georgia to Massachusetts and as far west as Illinois.

The snakes live in a variety of habitats ranging from terrestrial to semiaquatic. This includes our rocky forested hillsides and creeks of Hampshire county.

The poison of a copperhead can be fatal, however, the snake typically only injects a small amount of venom when it attacks humans. Once bitten, the venom can cause heavy damage to local skin and muscle tissues as well as open the door to a secondary, more serious infection of the area. However the venom is considered relatively mild/

Copperheads can be identified by their distinctive dumbbell or hourglass-shaped dorsal pattern that blends in very well with the surrounding leaf covered forest floor. The 2 to 3 foot snakes “are not particularly aggressive and will more than likely lay low and wait for you to pass,” according to Kevin Oxenrider of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources adding, “However like any poisonous snake the copperhead should be handled with care as they can become aggressive if agitated.”

Hikers and those out in rocky or brush-covered terrain are advised to wear tall leather boots and long pants to protect from bites when venturing out in these areas. Due to their coloring similar to dried leaves, it can be easy to miss close by snakes ready in wait.

Oxenrider said “to deter copperheads from coming in your yard we advise people keep their grass mowed and clean up any wood debris that may be laying around where people and pets are recreating.” He also cautioned to keep log piles used for firewood away from these areas as well and to “use care when removing wood from the piles.”  

If bitten by a copperhead it is advised you seek immediate medical attention. It is recommended you continue walking to find help. More than likely you will not notice the effects for many hours. Stay safe out there. o



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