The Enemies of the Northern Copperhead

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The northern copperhead is a deadly North American snake.
The northern copperhead is a deadly North American snake. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The northern copperhead is one of five subspecies that is found mainly in the eastern half of the U.S. It is a medium-sized snake that grows to between 24 and 32 inches in length. It is a venomous snake with a deadly bite. Being so dangerous, the snake has few friends and plenty of enemies.

Feral Hogs

The feral hog is a non-native species that is thriving in the U.S. The term feral hog refers to introduced wild boars, escaped domestic pigs and the cross breeds of those two species. The hogs are large, muscular animals that grow to 3 feet at the shoulder, 5 feet in length and weigh up to 400 lbs. The animal is a foraging omnivore and will eat anything it can find, including reptiles. A northern copperhead might not be hunted for, but can be eaten by a hungry hog.

King Snakes

One of the copperhead's main enemies is a snake that is both bigger and immune to its venom. The king snake grows to between 36 and 48 inches long on average but can reach 82 inches. It has a natural immunity to the venom of most North American venomous snakes, including the copperhead. The snake is a constrictor and regularly feeds on other reptiles and commonly on snakes.

Hawks

During the day the copperhead is at risk from enemies above. Many of North America's hawk species list reptiles such as snakes among their daily diet. Hawks, large or small, pose a threat to both adult and juvenile copperheads. Hawks swoop down on the snakes, pinning them beneath powerful talons. Potential predators of the snake include the ferrunginous hawk, red-shouldered hawk and coopers hawk.

Owls

The copperhead is active day and night depending on the season. Darkness may protect it from many enemies but not against owls. North America is home to numerous owl species, the largest of which will feed on mammals, other birds and reptiles such as the northern copperhead. Using strong night vision, the owls spot prey often by movement and will swoop down like hawks, pinning the animal beneath powerful talons.

Humans

The northern copperhead is not hunted specifically by any natural enemy but will be killed and eaten if the chance arises. The only enemy that would seek to kill the snake is humans. The danger posed by the snake leads to conflict with humans. The snakes will often be shot or bludgeoned to death by fearful humans afraid of being bitten.

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