This venomous Kentucky snake emits a musky and smelly odor

Anita Durairaj

The copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) is a venomous but common snake in many parts of Kentucky. It is found throughout the state but it is not as commonly found in the Inner Bluegrass region of Kentucky.

Copperheads are a part of the family of pit vipers. It is a reddish-brown snake that looks a lot like some other harmless snakes except that it isn't.

The snake is further characterized by crossbands across the side of its body and its back. Other distinguishing characteristics are their size and the shape of their pupils. Copperheads are medium-sized snakes and range from 2 and 3 feet. They tend to have vertical pupils.

Copperheads are generally not aggressive but they can be territorial.

They do bite and their venom does inflict harm although it is often not fatal. Additionally, when they are captured or handled, they may emit a musky and offensive odor. A lot of snakes and not just copperheads emit a defensive odor in reaction to any perceived aggression.

The musk is emitted from their scent glands and the odor is often mixed with the snake's feces.

There is a common myth that the copperhead's musky odor smells like cucumbers. However this has never been confirmed and according to experts, the smell may be different to different people. What most people agree on is that the odor is usually offensive.

There is another misconception about the copperhead that you can detect the snake from its musky smell. According to experts, this is also false. You cannot rely on its smell to avoid running into it. Rather, the smell is only emitted in response to aggression.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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