COPPERHEADS, Genus Austrelaps WORRELL, 1963
These dangerous snakes are restricted to colder parts of South East Australia and Tasmania. Usually attaining up to 1.8 metres, they are highly variable in colour, ranging from yellows, browns, reds, greys or black. Specimens may or may not have a different coloured nape region.
Copperheads occur in three forms, that were re-classified as separate (but similar) species. They are:
1/Highland form, (Austrelaps ramsayi), Found NSW, N.E. Victoria.
2/Lowland Form, (Austrelaps superbus), Found Victoria, Tasmania.
3/Dwarf Form, (Austrelaps labialis), Found S.E. South Australia.
The scalation is smooth with 15 mid body rows, 145-160 ventrals, single anal, and 40-55 single subcaudals.
These heavily built snakes are commonly confused with other venomous species. The venom is similar in constitution to that of the Tiger Snake Notechis scutatus, being neutralised by the same 'single' antivenom.
These snakes are not aggressive and will always flee if given the opportunity. Copperheads are most common near swamps and marshes where large numbers may occur within comparatively small areas. Copperheads spend most of their time concealed in vegetation and their presence is frequently undetected by both local residents and herpetologists.
Feeds mainly on frogs which are abundant where they occur. The Copperhead is however an opportunistic feeder, feeding on all available small enough vertebrates including other snakes. Because of this, areas where Copperheads are common often lack other snake species.
In hot weather Copperheads are crepuscular or nocturnal, otherwise diurnal. The Copperhead has a stronger resistance to cold than other snakes, having shorter periods of winter dormancy than other snakes in the same areas.
Mating occurs in early spring with an average of fourteen live young being born in late summer. The young average 18 cm in length.
The above was from the book Australian Reptiles and Frogs by Raymond Hoser and now available on a fantastic CD-Rom along with a vast amount of other information, papers and the like on reptiles, frogs and other wildlife.