Location: Ozark Mountains in Northern Arkansas.

Size: Perhaps 4-6 feet in length.

Behavior: Mower uncovered a couple of these in tall grass/brush next to a log. They did not coil up. This one lay still for a few minutes before slithering into the cover of grass.

Same snake from a few different angles is shown below:

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    $\begingroup$ Yes snake is venomous, but it's a fairly docile venomous snake species. I'd be more concerned about what [possibly?] looks like a ton of poison hemlock you mowed down all around it! see here: "Acutely toxic to people...causes death by respiratory paralysis after ingestion.....Caution: toxins can be inhaled when mowing poison hemlock. Mowing is not recommended due to risk of breathing in toxins." $\endgroup$ Apr 22 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist you are correct that is poison hemlock, which has been infesting the area and which I'm trying to control mechanically by cutting before it flowers as described here: (farmanddairy.com/columns/get-rid-of-poison-hemlock-now/…). I've seen the warning you linked but the quantity is too much for manual control. I haven't noticed any symptoms after mowing but do appreciate the concern and may start using my respiratory mask again thanks to your reminder. $\endgroup$
    – mherzl
    Apr 23 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


Looks like an eastern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix). It is one of 6 venomous snakes in Arkansas (of a total ~39 AR species; see University of Arkansas).

  • See Herps of Arkansas for a nice range map showing sightings throughout the Ozarks.

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Source: Herps of Arkansas

From University of Arkansas Extension

CHARACTERISTICS: Tan with darker brown hourglass-shaped bands. Bands sometimes thinly bordered with white. Belly mostly patternless but some times with lower spots between bands extending onto belly. Heat-sensing pits. Pupils elliptical.

HABITAT: Occurs statewide in mixed pine-hardwood forests, bottomland hardwood forests, rocky or brushy fields and hillsides

According to Wikipedia, copperheads are usually < 3 ft long, so your length estimate is likely exaggerated. (However, according to UGA Extension, a 4+ft individual was the largest ever found -- still shy of your size estimate).

  • For sake of argument, see Virginia Herpetological Society for a nice visual demonstration of comparison to other "look-alike" species, and see this AR Snake Guide for a visual of the ~40 species found in Arkansas.

    • From both, you'll see that few if any species have the "hour-glass" pattern characteristic of the copperhead. (the closest in appearance, in my opinion, are non-venomous water snakes that still appear different AND would be found instead in/around water).


Pit vipers (which include copperheads, rattlesnakes, and cottonmouths) result in more venomous snakebites than any other snake groups in the U.S. [Source], but this is primarily due to their widespread ranges and moderate abundances.

  • In terms of bites per encounter, copperheads rarely bite humans when provoked (again, the number of incidences being more a result of how common and widespread they are). In my experience, copperheads are one of the most docile snakes I come across. I have been within centimeters of stepping on one's head multiple times without being bit, and a friend of mine knelt on one once without being struck. The trick: just leave them alone, and if you get too close, just walk away.

Even if bit, a copperhead's bite is not as dire as some other venomous species. From Blue Cross:

A copperhead snake bite can range from mild to severe. While most copperhead bites are not life-threatening, they can be very painful, and they require immediate medical attention⁠. Some copperhead bites require antivenom treatment, and others (dry bites, or non-venomous bites) require only evaluation and observation by a doctor.

  • Note: According to UF Wuildife, 20-25% of pit viper bites are "dry bites", meaning no venom is injected.

See University of Arkansas Extension for a "What should I do if I've been bitten by a snake?"

  • you'll note from their site that there is now one common antivenom for all pit vipers.
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    $\begingroup$ PS, please don't kill them. Theyre cutting down pest population and mostly minding their own business. If you fear for the safety of a pet or child, please consider calling a humane removal surface. Reach out to the local university extension office for suggestions. $\endgroup$ Apr 22 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ They eat deer mice (90% of their diet), which helps to decrease the tick population and, subsequently, Lyme disease and other nasties that ticks carry. Imo, anything that decreases ticks in this day and age of tick-borne diseases is a keeper. $\endgroup$ Apr 22 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ Trust me, I've had plenty -- You definitely want to avoid the tick diseases. Keep the snake! $\endgroup$ Apr 23 at 2:34

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