Posted by: zhak39 | September 14, 2009

Not A Copperhead

‘Nuff said.

OK.  Here’s the story.

Sunday is my day to shop for food and cook for the week.  The oven is stuffed and pots crowd the burners on top of the stove.  Amidst the peeling, pouring, simmering and baking, Chris came in the kitchen with a dust and web covered coffee can.

“Three guesses, what’s in the can,” he tells me.

“Ummmm. Water,” I say.

“Nope,” he says with a big smile.

“Dirt,” I guess.

“No again,” he is on the edge of some kind of hilarity.

“Umm.  Coffee,” I give on my third try.

“No, a snake.  It was in the garage.”

“What kind of snake?” I ask.

“I don’t know.  I need to look it up.  Can I have a fork?” He grabs one out of the dish rack.

“What? don’t use a fork. What are you doing?  How big is it? What does it look like?”

“It’s really little.  It’s a baby.  I just want to put some air holes in here so it doesn’t suffocate.”

“OK, use a skewer but be careful not to harm it.  What does it look like?”

“Oh, its like brown and tan in splotches and it’s about 4 or 5 inches long.”

“Don’t open that in here.  What are you doing?  What does it’s head look like?”

“It’s kind of pointy.”

“Like a triangle or a diamond?”

“You know, mom.  Kind of pointy looking.”

OK, by now I am pumping adrenaline and not remaining calm.  Because with my x-ray vision I am seeing this inside the can.

baby copperhead

“Chris, don’t open it.  Do you remember what a copperhead looks like? You know baby copperheads are just as venomous as adults?”

“Cool.  Let’s look at it,” he answers.

“Don’t open that in the kitchen,” I order then to be completely idiotic. “I’m cooking in here.”

“Mom, you’re freaking.”

“Just get it out of the kitchen.  Get it out of the house.”

I turned off the burners and follow him into the attached garage to get to the backyard.

“Where did you find it, anyway?” I ask.

“In the garage,” he answers.

“Jeez, Chris, you know copperheads have live births of up to 8 snakes. You know August and September is birthing season for them?  Ghuuh.  Where exactly, JUST  GET OUT OF THE GARAGE!”

“Mom, you know you’re really freaking,” he said with perfect aplomb.

“Just bring it to the back, not in the firewood pile, the back in the woods.”

“OK, mom.  Don’t you want to see it.”

“Honey, I’m going to stand 20 feet away so when you get bit someone can drag you back to the house.”

“Your really wierd, mom.  OK. Here it goes.”

Chris pried the lid of the can and gently dropped a pinky thin snake onto the grass.  It looked like this guy.


That’s a chocolate hatchling, a very little baby corn snake.  Corn snakes hatch from eggs, clutches of 8 to 20.  They are absolutely nonaggressive.  They constrict their prey rather than biting.  Not as good as a pair of black snakes but very effective for keeping mice out of the house.  The one Chris caught is probably the boldest of a bunch of siblings curled up somewhere under the cardboard or old boxes or motorcycle parts or stacks of old carpet that can’t seem to make it to a dumpster so don’t get disturbed very often.

“So, that’s a copperhead?”

“No, honey.  That’s a baby corn snake.”

“Oh, so you freaked out for nothing?”

“Yes, sweetie.  Pretty much.”


  1. I live in Knoxville, in the city, we have been at this same house for 13 years, i have seen many snakes, coppreheads, rat snakes, and a couple of rattles. I still get freeked, so don’t fill bad.

  2. Thank you, Carol. While I have a great appreciation for nature~~outside~~some of it really doesn’t belong underfoot, you know?

  3. Thank you for the verification – ” baby corn snake” I just spotted one crawling up my the tree after I was watering monkey grass at the base of a laurel oak tree in Tallahassee, FL. I prefer never to kill snakes, however if I can relocate a venomous snake in my yard I may resort to that. I have two dogs and love to chase a seek out fence post lizards – my dogs staying clear of venomous snakes in my yard is a priority. Thanks again! Ray – Ray’s Kayaks – Certified Outdoor Guide & Master Naturalist –

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