Watch out! Copperhead activity is rising in the Ozarks

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 4:42 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - We all love a good hike when the temperatures and leaves start to fall.

This time of year is when copperheads, a venomous snake found in the Ozarks, are more active.

These are the snakes with a “Hershey Kiss” pattern on their body. Due to cooler overnight temperatures, copperheads use the daytime for hunting. Baby copperheads born in the summer are old enough to hunt independently. However, that shouldn’t deter you from enjoying your autumn hikes. There are ways to keep you safe and aware, explained Francis Skalicky, a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“When you’re walking over rocks, when you’re walking over logs, when you’re walking by rocks, just keep an eye out for them. If you see them, steer clear of them. They won’t come after you. The bites that occur are when copperheads get startled, and it’s a defensive measure,” Skalicky said.

An easy way to let snakes and other creatures know you’re nearby is to carry a walking stick. Creating friction is an excellent way to let them know where you are, as snakes are deaf and rely on vibration to hear.

That being said, dogs sometimes cannot control their instincts of chasing and hunting small creatures. It’s recommended to have them on a leash when roaming the trails.

“Be an extra set of eyes for your dog. If your dog is barking around a snake or something like that, get the dog away from the snake. It’s the same with humans. The snake wants to get away. The dog is annoying it, and it wants to go away. If you get the dog away, the snake will crawl away, and everything will be fine,” Skalicky said.

So take in the scenery above, but keep an eye on the ground. If you happen to get bit by a venomous snake or one you’re not sure is venomous, stay calm and find medical treatment as fast as possible.

For a complete list of reptiles found in the Ozarks, click here.

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