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RE: What kind of copperheads do i have?

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Posted by: SnakesAndStuff at Sat Oct 30 10:43:01 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by SnakesAndStuff ]  
   

From the photos we can guess as to what the animals are phenotypically (with some degree of certainty), but with copperheads there is so much overlap in ranges and integredation that you can't tell for sure what it is and whether it is an integrade or not without information about where it was collected. I'm guessing since the original seller misrepresented the animal, actual collection data is not known.

The problem is, in areas of integrade the integrades can exhibit the traits of either subspecies or a mixture of the two. For example: I've seen people post photos before claiming to catch a northern copperhead and a southern copperhead under the same coverboard. This is false information. What they actually caught was a phenotypically northern copperhead and a phenotypically southern copperhead. However, since they're obviously in the zone of integradation they are most probably genotypically interade animals.

The general rule on copperheads is that their ventral pattern tells the tale. If you look at southern copperheads the dark ventral blotches are between the crossbands and the light ventral blotches are in line with the dorsal crossbands. On nothern copperheads the dark ventral blotches are in line with the dorsal crossbands and the light ventral blotches are between the dorsal crossbands. Osage copperheads often have a patternless belly. Also, on osage copperheads if you look at the last 1/3 of the body of the snake (snout to vent) the crossbands vary from southern copperheads. In southern copperheads the dark outline of the dorsal crossband extends to the very first dorsal scale row. In osage copperheads the dark outline of the crossband does not typically extend to the first dorsal scale row.

In broadbanded copperheads and and trans pecos copperheads their dorsal pattern is markedly different from that of northern and southern and osage copperheads by the lacking of prominence of compression of the crossband along the spine. Once again, one of the key characters between these two relies on the ventral pattern. Broadbanded copperheads tend to be more banded whereas trans pecos copperheads tend to have a more "pinched" ventral pattern. If you look at them from the side, slightly turned upwards you'll see on transpecos copperheads the presense of little "upside down U's" in the crossbands from the interaction of the dorsal and ventral patterns. On broadbanded coperheads this is not prominent.

These are generalities when keying out copperheads. In an animal with as many subspecies and as much integredation and captive manipulation and mutt-making it is very hard to tell what is going on with animals in captivity without orignal collection data. For that matter, it is often difficult to tell for sure what is going on from wild caught animals if you only hae a single specimen. Keying out subspecies often requires the observation of many specimens from a region to make sure that you're not seeing a freak animal or trait and to make sure you are looking at an appropriate representation of the animals in the area.

I hope this helps some. If you have any questions please respond.

Bobby Neal


   

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>> Next Message:  Good point on Osage belly pattern..... - Kelly_Haller, Tue Nov 2 21:05:04 2010
>> Next Message:  Quick Correction - SnakesAndStuff, Tue Nov 9 17:22:12 2010

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