Copperheads and Immature Black Snakes


“Like a great mountain, the Lord stands as the abode for all moving and nonmoving living entities. He is the friend of the snakes because Lord Ananta is His friend.”

Srimad Bhagavatam 3.8.30

Recently a snake was found and removed from the basement  of the CD building (originally known as the nursery building) when some things were being removed.  The immediate question was if it was a copperhead, the only poisonous snake in the New Vrindaban area. Here is a picture:

snake-from-cd-building

This snake is an immature black snake.  Here is a picture of a copperhead:

copperhead

Key things about a copperhead is that most descriptions have them only up to 30-36″ (75 to 90 mm) long, which is smaller than the captured snake. Another is the triangular head typical of the pit viper family of snakes, and the coloration of the head is different than the rest of its body.

copperhead-head-detail

Beneficial snakes have a more diamond shaped head, as in the picture of the captured snake above. More mistakable for a copperhead is a juvenile black rat snake:

juvenile-black-rat-snake1

The duller coloration and the head are diagnostic.  Adult black rat snakes are all black, but as is seen in the photo of the captured snake, an immature one can still retain the juvenile patterning which does get it mistaken for a copperhead by those who have never seen a copperhead.

I have been here 35 years and only seen copperheads twice and that was away from buildings so they are a rarity. They are reclusive and live in rock faces away from people normally.

Rat snakes are extremely beneficial and help control the population of rodents.

Another snake that can be mistaken for a copperhead is a milk snake:

The difference is the red coloration and, again, the head.

Visitors to New Vrindaban  never see snakes if they stay in the temple area.  For the more adventorous who wander off the beaten path, only the lucky ones will ever catch a glimpse of a snake and then it is most likely to be a garter or black snake, both of which are beneficial and good to have around.

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Reader Comments

I think snakes are beautiful creatures but so many people are frightened of them and as such they are seriously misunderstood.

[...] We talked about copperheads and how they are easily confused with immature black snakes. [...]