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Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 24th, 2014, 7:44 pm
by semasko
I've read that this is a great way to find Copperheads during the hot summer months in the southeast U.S. I've never read anything about it in the northeast though (WV, MD, PA, NY, CT). A lot of literature shows them being nocturnal during hot humid weather, but has anybody here actually specifically looked for them at night? If so, under what conditions?

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 25th, 2014, 11:12 am
by Kyle from Carolina
I saw one in MD on the road shortly after nightfall while taking people owling. This was during the super hot summer a couple of years ago. It was the first snake I saw in like 2 weeks. I've also seen them on the road during the heat of summer shortly after nightfall in the NC mtns. This isn't exactly "in the north" but the summers can be a bit cooler than the flatland south, maybe similar to what you'd see in some of those states that you listed. I'd say it's worth a try but I haven't spent much time up north so I can't say for sure.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 27th, 2014, 9:23 am
by semasko
Yea I'm sure the climate there is pretty similar. It's just weird that I always hear about them being nocturnal but can't find anything about people actually seeing them at night. I do tend to see them out more in the evening / late afternoon this time of year.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 27th, 2014, 12:39 pm
by Mike VanValen
I speak only for CT, but the areas where copperheads are common are usually not near any roads. I'm sure it happens but all of my copperhead spots are a bit of a hike.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 27th, 2014, 6:22 pm
by cbernz
Mike VanValen wrote:I speak only for CT, but the areas where copperheads are common are usually not near any roads. I'm sure it happens but all of my copperhead spots are a bit of a hike.
I think it's the same here in NJ. If there are roads through the habitat they're most likely rocky forest roads that aren't great for driving. I've never gone looking for them at night, but I would probably try if I lived closer to them. I did see a Copperhead on a road in VA one August night at dusk. I wasn't actively herping at the time, and I was trying to read directions, so I passed the snake, stopped, and walked back to pick it up off the road in the dim light of my taillights. My hand was inches from grabbing it when I suddenly became aware that it was a Copperhead.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 27th, 2014, 7:04 pm
by Mike VanValen
The habitat usage is a lot different in the southern copperhead, and even the intergrades in Maryland/Delaware.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 29th, 2014, 4:23 pm
by kyle loucks
Imagenj copper by krloucks

My only road cruised copperhead in New Jersey.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 29th, 2014, 5:25 pm
by brick911
I saw two copperheads on the road at night last year in North NJ. I tried two nights in a row in similar weather. The first night... two copperheads, one rat, one garter, one water. The second night, nothing - but it was on different roads. It's only anecdotal, but take it for what its worth.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 29th, 2014, 7:46 pm
by semasko
I came here specifically for anecdotal! Nice picture Kyle, I hope it was some type of record for you. Last night would have been perfect but I couldn't get out. I've read about the moon phase having some significance as well. Two weeks ago on the first very hot/humid nights here (western PA) after rains I checked some roads, and it was a full moon and saw nothing. It's supposed to be 90 on tuesday with storms so I'll try and rule out these roads I'm currently checking.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: June 30th, 2014, 3:08 am
by tomharten
Not sure if you would consider southern MD "north", but copperheads are most easily found road cruising in rural areas. Here is one that a friend and I found last week at dusk. It crawled under my car as we were trying to snap some pix and snuggled up against my tire.

Image

Image

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: July 2nd, 2014, 12:35 pm
by ZantiMissKnit
Mike VanValen wrote:I speak only for CT, but the areas where copperheads are common are usually not near any roads. I'm sure it happens but all of my copperhead spots are a bit of a hike.
This is how it is in MA as well, although I did hear of one DOR last year.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: July 6th, 2014, 7:28 pm
by Kyle from Carolina
I didn't know there was anywhere in MA or CT that isn't near a road. :)

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: July 7th, 2014, 5:14 am
by ZantiMissKnit
Kyle from Carolina wrote:I didn't know there was anywhere in MA or CT that isn't near a road. :)
HAHA, good point. I think most of the western MA populations are a little bit of a trek from any roads, but I know of one spot that is surrounded by highways.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: July 7th, 2014, 2:58 pm
by Mike VanValen
Kyle from Carolina wrote:I didn't know there was anywhere in MA or CT that isn't near a road. :)
Hard to believe, I know, but there are some places.

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: July 10th, 2014, 7:37 pm
by niteflyer8
semasko wrote:I've read that this is a great way to find Copperheads during the hot summer months in the southeast U.S. I've never read anything about it in the northeast though (WV, MD, PA, NY, CT). A lot of literature shows them being nocturnal during hot humid weather, but has anybody here actually specifically looked for them at night? If so, under what conditions?
They are nocturnal but I have never seen them on paved roads at night in CT. I have only seen one during the day a few years ago when it was hot. It was in a bush overhanging the trail. That snake was very aggressive and saw me before I saw it. Still it chose to retreat. If my pace through the area had been quicker it may have bit me.

They are out there but finding them is hard. especially if you are looking for them

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: March 31st, 2015, 7:53 pm
by Bryan Hamilton
Ohio isn't the northwest but road crusing on hot summer nights was a good way to find copperheads.

Did anyone have any luck cruising them last year?

Re: Road cruising for Copperheads in the North

Posted: April 20th, 2015, 7:23 am
by BillMcGighan
Forgive the intrusion from someone in the SE chapter, but just a few long winded, old guy useless notes:

First, here in the south, Copperheads can be found regularly well into the night on country roads. In some areas, they may be the most common non-aquatic snake.

Where I live now, at my latitude and altitude, in the southern Appalachians, on hot summer nights and cooler fall nights, Northern Copperheads are common place.
Because of big altitude changes in just a span of 10 miles, our climate patterns change from typical southern latitude patterns to a New England weather patterns. Finding these animals seems to increase (IMHO) at lower altitudes.

A significant safety factor here in the mountains is that there are often no shoulders on the roads, so stopping on a curve at night, is pretty risky business.



Relevance to your discussion:

When I lived in the northern Appalachians (50’s and 60’s; Sussex County, NJ), conditions were similar in activity times and mountain roads with narrow shoulders. Yet, there were a few roads that I knew about where late summer/early fall cruising were consistently productive.
(One Copperhead road was extra hazardous on weekend night, because the NY state border was very near. NJ drinking age was 21; NY drinking age was 18; teens migrated on this road on those evenings, got tipsy in NY, then drove the windy, forested roads home. It gave the term DOR an ominous meaning)

The gotcha for today is that when I enjoyed hunting these roads, the 1960's population was much lower.
The human population of Sussex County, as an example, was 49,255 (1960), and, of course, is near quadrupling.

US Census info
MUNICIPALITY.......1960........1970.......1980..........1990........2000......2010........Projected
............................................................................................................................2020
SUSSEX COUNTY...49,255.....77,528....116,119.....130,943....144166...164165.....174782

In 2000, 144166 folks were in 50, 831 households and typically, a little more than 4% DID NOT have a vehicle, so vehicles on the road since my time have increases tremendously.

For what it's worth,
Regards, Bill