Agkistrodon contortrix

Sit and Wait Predator

The copperhead is also called the death adder, chunk head, and dry-land moccasin. Its scientific name is Agkistrodon contortrix. It is a pit viper, and like all pit vipers, it is an ambush predator. The copperhead will sit and wait in dry leaf matter waiting for an animal to come into its path.


Unlike many of the viperids in North America, the copperhead will not flee the area if confronted by a human. Instead it will coil up and freeze. (The attached species photo was taken in a patch of dry leaves in North Texas. We were able to get many photos of the copperhead because it did not slither away from the area.)

What do Copperheads eat?

About 90 percent of the diet of a copperhead consists of mice, voles, and other small rodents. They will also eat frogs and large insects (such as cicadas).

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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