EASTERN COPPERHEAD/BROAD-BANDED COPPERHEAD COMPLEX
Agkistrodon contortrix/laticinctus
(Linnaeus, 1766)/(Gloyd & Conant 1934)


ăg-kĭs-trō-dŏn — kŏn-tōr-trĭx/lă-tĭ-sĭnk-tŭs




Adult Eastern Copperhead from Marshall County. © Maci Loughrea.
An juvenile from Douglas County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult specimen from Johnson County, Kansas. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult Eastern  Copperhead from Cherokee County, Kansas. © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult Eastern  Copperhead from Cherokee County, Kansas. © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult from Waubaunsee County. Image © Jim Scharosch.
An adult from Elk County. Image © Michael Pearce.
An adult Eastern Copperhead basking above Leavenworth State Fishing Lake. © Julie & John Tollefson.
A pair of adults from Wilson County. Image © Adam Sweetman.

Description:
DANGEROUSLY VENOMOUS (a threat to life or limb): Pattern of 7-20 distinct hourglass-shaped light-edged bands with no rattle on tail and a small pit on each side of its head between and slightly below the eye and nostril. Varies in color from gray to light brown with dark gray to reddish-brown crossbands. Head may be gray, brown or reddish. Belly is white with large dark gray, brown or black blotches on its edges extending a short distance up onto the sides of the body. Young look like miniature adults, but with yellowish or greenish tails. The two species hybridize across most of Kansas.
Adults normally grow 560-915 mm (22- 36 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: male (KU 196643) from Jefferson County with TL of 1,020 mm (40 inches) collected by Henry S. Fitch on 13 July 1984; maximum length throughout range: 53 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998); maximum weight for Kansas specimen is about 400 grams (14 ounces).

Distribution:
The two forms are broadly overlapping. Agkistrodon contortrix is found generally north and east of the Neosho River basin, where it is scarce and occurs in scattered populations. It enters the Flint Hills along rocky riparian corridors where there has been genetic admixture at some point in the past with the Broad-banded Copperhead. A. laticinctus occurs between the Verdigris River and Walnut River drainages in Kansas. 
The genetic influences of A. laticinctus have been detected in the westernmost populations of the Eastern Copperhead (A. contortrix) occurring in the Kansas River and Neosho River drainages (Burbrink and Guiher, 2014).


(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 913 Total Records 
  • 836 Museum Vouchers 
  • 77 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (1); Anderson (57); Atchison (18); Bourbon (32); Butler (1); Chase (8); Chautauqua (20); Cherokee (34); Coffey (3); Cowley (28); Crawford (3); Dickinson (6); Doniphan (2); Douglas (163); Elk (14); Franklin (109); Geary (4); Greenwood (5); Jackson (2); Jefferson (30); Johnson (19); Labette (15); Leavenworth (7); Linn (45); Lyon (9); Marshall (21); Miami (127); Montgomery (2); Neosho (1); Osage (18); Pottawatomie (3); Riley (33); Shawnee (3); Unknown (50); Wabaunsee (1); Washington (2); Wilson (4); Woodson (8); Wyandotte (5);

Natural History:
Prefers open rocky woodland, woodland edge, and meadows adjacent to woodland. Pattern and color of this snake blend perfectly with forest leaf litter. In summer, it becomes nocturnal. Because of its shy disposition and camouflage pattern, this snake exists in reasonably large numbers near areas of human population. During spring and fall, it is often found on wooded hilltop rock outcrops with a southern exposure. A litter of one to 14 young is born from August to October. Eats insects (especially emerging cicadas), frogs, toads, lizards, small birds and other snakes; particularly fond of rodents.

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Remarks:
First reported in Kansas by Hallowell (1856). The earliest existing specimen is from 1879 (MCZ 5844).
Specimens are needed along the western periphery of its range in Kansas to better define the limits of its range there. Additional specimens are also desirable from the Drift Hills in the northeast and throughout the Neosho River drainage basin.
Burt (1935) reported a specimen taken 5 miles east of Rock, Cowley County, Kansas, on 16 April 1934.
Gloyd (1969) described Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster. United States National Museum no. 165955, adult male, received from Dr. Henry S. Fitch, July, 1960; locality 10 miles south of McLouth, Jefferson County, Kansas; collector not stated. He went on to define its distribution as "A. c. phaeogaster occupies the major portion of the Marais des Cygnes-Osage River drainage system in eastern Kansas and central Missouri. It intergrades with A. c. laticinctus in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma... ".


Bibliography:
1766 Linné, Carl von (=Linneaus). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm, Holmiae, Editio duodecima, reformata (12th Edition). 1-532pp.
1857 Hallowell, Edward. Notice of a collection of reptiles from Kansas and Nebraska presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences, by Doctor Hammond, U. S. A. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():238-253
1859 Cope, Edward D. Catalogue of the venomous serpents in the Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, with notes on the families, genera, and species. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 11():332-347
1877 Mozley, Annie E List of Kansas snakes in the museum of the Kansas State Univeristy Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 6():34-35
1882 Yarrow, Henry C. Check list of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in U. S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (24):1-249
1895 Stejneger, Leonhard. The poisonous snakes of North America. Annual Report of the United States National Museum 1893(2):337-487
1904 Branson, Edwin B. Snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 2(13):353-430
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1913 Crow, H. E. Some trematodes of Kansas snakes. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 7(4):125-136
1925 Linsdale, Jean M. Land Vertebrates of a Limited Area in Eastern Kansas. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 312pp.
1927 Linsdale, Jean M. Amphibians and reptiles of Doniphan County, Kansas. Copeia 1927(164):75-81
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1928 Gloyd, Howard Kay The amphibians and reptiles of Franklin County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 31():115-141
1929 Gloyd, Howard K. Studies on the breeding habits and young of the Copperhead, Agkistrodon mokasen Beauvois, with some observations on ovoviviparity. Thesis. Kansas State Agricultural College, Manhattan, Kansas. 49pp.
1929 Taylor, Edward H. A revised checklist of the snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(5):53-62
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1934 Burt, Charles E. and W. L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1934 Gloyd, Howard K. Studies on the breeding habits and young of the Copperhead, Agkistrodon mokasen Beauvois. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 19():587-604
1934 Gloyd, Howard K. and Roger Conant. The broad-banded copperhead: A new subspecies of Agkistrodon mokasen. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (283):1-5
1935 Burt, Charles E. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16(3):311-366
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1938 Gloyd, Howard K. and Roger Conant. The subspecies of the copperhead, Agkistrodon mokasen Beauvois. Bulletin of the Chicago Academy of Sciences 5(7):163-166
1941 Mansueti, R. A descriptive catalogue of the amphibians and reptiles found in and around Baltimore City, Maryland, within a radius of twenty miles. Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Maryland 7():1-53
1943 Gloyd, Howard K. and Roger Conant. A synopsis of the American forms of Agkistrodon (copperheads and moccasins). Bulletin of the Chicago Academy of Sciences 7(2):147-170
1946 Gloyd, Howard K. Some rattlesnake dens of South Dakota. The Chicago Naturalist 9(4):87-97
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1959 Fitch, Henry S. A patternless phase of the Copperhead. Herpetologica 15(1):21-24
1959 Prophet, Carl W. An outline for conservation teaching in Kansas. Kansas School Naturalist 5(3):16
1960 Fitch, Henry S. Autecology of the copperhead. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History 13(4):85-288
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1969 Gloyd, Howard K. Two additional subspecies of North American crotalid snakes, genus Agkistrodon. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 82():219-232
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1978 Fitch, Henry S. and E. Raymond Hall. A 20year record of succession on reseeded fields of tallgrass prairie on the Rockefeller Experimental Tract. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Special Publication (4):1-15
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1985 Fitch, Henry S. and Joseph T. Collins. Intergradation of the Osage and Broad-banded Copperheads in Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 88(3-4):135-137
1990 Gloyd, Howard K. and Roger Conant. Snakes of the Agkistrodon complex: A monographic review. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Contributions to Herpetology Number 6, . pp.
1991 Collins, Joseph T Viewpoint: A new taxonomic arrangement for some North American amphibins and reptiles Herpetological Review 22(2):42-43
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1992 Knight, A., L. D. Densmore III, and E. D. Rael. Molecular systematics of the Agkistrodon complex. Pages 49-69 in Biology of the Pitvipers Selva, Tyler, Texas. pp.
1994 Fitzgerald, Eve and Charles Nilon Classification of habitats for endangered and threatened species in Wyandotte County, Kansas Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 98pp.
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2001 Kettle, W. Dean, R. H. Hagen, F. deNoyelles, Jr., and E. A. Martinko. The University of Kansas field station and ecological reserves: A half century of research and education. Miscellaneous Publication Number 9. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 68pp.
2002 Fitch, Henry S. and Anna L. Clark. An exceptionally large natural assemblage of female Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix). Herpetological Review 33(2):94-95
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2003 fall field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):14-15
2004 Fitch, Henry S. Observations on Osage Copperheads in northeastern Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (12):20
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2008 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2009 Douglas, Michael E., Marlis R. Douglas, Gordon W. Schuett, and Louis W. Porras. Climate change and evolution of the New World pitviper genus Agkistrodon (Viperidae). Journal of Biogeography 36():1164-1180
2011 McMartin, David C. U. S. Army 2011 Fort Leavenworth Herpetofaunal Survey: 23 April - 09 May 2011. Privately printed, Leavenworth, Kansas. 33pp.
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2014 Burbrink, Frank T. and Timothy J. Guiher. Considering gene flow when using coalescent methods to delimit lineages of North American pitvipers of the genus Agkistrodon. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 2014():1-22
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
2018 Riedle, Daren. Conservation conversations: The year of the snake. Kansas Wildlife and Parks Magazine (November/December):6
Account Last Updated:
5/8/2019 9:30:57 AM


Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University