COPPERHEAD. A venomous North Ameri can snake (.1neistrodon contortrix) of the rattle snake family. It may exceed four feet in length, and has a burnished copper-colored head, hazel brown (sometimes golden) body, with y-shaped dark blotches on the sides, which usually meet over the back. The belly is marked with round black spots. The belly is tapered, greenish when young, chestnut in age, and has no rattle; nor does the snake vibrate it against the grass, "and so produce a warning sound not unlike that of the rattlesnake," as is often said, more than is the habit of all snakes when excited. Another unfounded fable is that it waits until you pass and then strikes from the rear. The truth is it is sluggish, moving about mainly at night, and by day seeks to avoid notiee and will not bite unless greatly alarmed or provoked; most acci dents result from picking it up or touching it with the hand in handling brush or stones in the woods, or clearing swamps. Its bite is as deadly as that of any snake of its size, and the absence of rattling makes it especially danger ous. In the fall it seeks some underground den,
where occasionally several have been found en tangled together in dormancy: these are usually, if not always, pregnant females. When aroused in spring it seeks swamps and wet meadows, where its food (mainly mice) is most abundant, and where the young are brought forth alive in midsummer. This snake is known from Massa chusetts to the Rio Grande, espeeially in moun tainous districts, and is still common in the rocky hills of the Hudson and Connecticut valleys. It has many names, such as `pilot,' red-eye."red adder,' copper-belly.' and. in the .South, 'cotton mouth' and `moccasin'—the last confusing it with its near relative, the true or water moc casin (q.v). Consult Stejneger, "The Poison ous Snakes of North America." in Rept. U. V. Not, Museum for 1893 (Washington, 1895). See Plate of RATTLESNAKES.