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Agkistrodon contortrix (LINNAEUS, 1766)

IUCN Red List - Agkistrodon contortrix - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Crotalinae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Southern Copperhead
mokasen: Northern Copperhead
phaeogaster: Osage Copperhead
G: Kupferkopf 
SynonymBoa contortrix LINNAEUS 1766: 373
Agkistrodon mokason PALISOT DE BEAUVOIS 1799
Cenchris mokeson DAUDIN 1803
Ancistrodon contortrix — BAIRD 1854: 13
Agkistrodon contortrix — BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 17
Trigonocephalus contortrix — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 1494
Cenchris atrofuscus — THEOBALD 1868
Akistrodon mokasen — DURY 1932 (in error)
Agkistrodon mokasen mokasen — BURT 1935
Agkistrodon mokasen mokasen — CONANT 1938
Agkistrodon mokeson mokeson — GLOYD & CONANT 1943: 150
Agkistrodon mokeson austrinus — GLOYD & CONANT 1943: 153
Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster GLOYD 1969: 220
Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster — GLOYD & CONANT 1990
Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen — GLOYD & CONANT 1990
Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix — GLOYD & CONANT 1990
Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 227
Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 226
Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 227
Agkistrodon contortrix mokeson — WELCH 1994: 11 (in error)
Agkistrodon contortrix — LINER 1994
Agkistrodon contortrix — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 236
Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 478
Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen — CROTHER 2000: 56
Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster — CROTHER 2000: 56
Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 481
Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 484
Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen — CROTHER et al. 2012
Agkistrodon contortrix — CROTHER et al. 2012
Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster — CROTHER et al. 2012
Agkistrodon contortrix — WALLACH et al. 2014: 18
Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen — LILLYWHITE 2014: 24
Agkistrodon contortrix — CROTHER et al. 2017 
DistributionUSA (Texas, E/C Oklahoma, E Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, S Illinois, S Indiana, S Ohio, Iowa,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, S New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts),
Mexico (NE Chihuahua, N Coahuila)

contortrix: E Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana; Type locality: ‘Carolina’ (Linnaeus, 1766), restricted to Charleston, SC, by (Schmidt, 1953).

mokasen: Massachussetts, Connecticut, SE New York, N New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois.

phaeogaster: Kansas, Missouri, Texas; Type locality: “10 miles south of McLouth, Jefferson County, Kansas”.  
Reproductionviviparous; facultative parthenogenesis (BOOTH et al. 2012, JORDAN et al. 2015). 
TypesType: Lost. The type specimen was not found among Linnaean materials examined by Lönnberg (1896) and by Andersson (1899, 1900) (from McDiarmid et al. 1999); unknown (fide Burbrink & Guiher 2014)
Holotype: USNM 165955, adult male; paratypes: USNM, AMNH, UMMZ, FMNH [phaeogaster] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (contortrix): Combining characteristics for the subspe- cies A. c. contortrix, A. c. mokason, and A. phaegaster, we provide a diagnosis for A. contortrix. We find that the eastern copperhead (A. contortrix) is a medium-sized pit viper with an average adult size of 61– 90 cm and a maximum size of 132.1 cm (Gloyd & Conant, 1990; Conant & Collins, 1991), with a ratio of tail to total length of 0.11–0.17 in males and 0.11– 0.16 in females. There is a single anal plate, keeled dorsal scales and typically 23 midbody scale rows (range 21–25; Gloyd & Conant, 1990). Subcaudals range from 38 to 59 in males and from 37 to 49 in females, whereas ventral scales number 139–157 with no variation between sexes (Gloyd & Conant, 1990). Supralabials and infralabials range from 6 to 10 (mode 8) and from 8 to 12 (mode 10), respectively, and total postoculars + suboculars range from 3 to 6 (mode 4; Gloyd & Conant, 1990). A combination of geography and colour pattern distinguishes the eastern copperhead from related species. There are 10–21 dark cross- bands on a brown, tan or grey background (or very dark or black individuals) in males (10–17 in A. laticinctus) and 11–20 in females (10–18 in A. laticinctus). Cross-bands are narrow at the midbody and widen toward the sides, described as hourglass or dumbbell shaped, and may be broken at middorsum (Gloyd & Conant, 1990), whereas they generally do not narrow at the midbody in A. laticinctus. The head is coppery brown or reddish–brown with a pale cheek stripe (Gloyd & Conant, 1990). The approximate range of this species extends from Connecticut to Florida along the Atlantic coast, west to include eastern Texas north through eastern Oklahoma into eastern Kansas, where A. laticinctus ranges from eastern Texas north to eastern Kansas (Fig. 5A). Hybridization with the broad-banded copperhead apparently occurs along an eco- logical transition zone from south-eastern Texas north to eastern Kansas, defined by an increasing elevation, decreasing precipitation, and transition from mixed forest and cypress swamp to prairie grassland (Bailey, 1995). Diagnosis may be difficult for some individuals in this area without additional molecular or mor- phological data and analyses (Fig. 5A) [BURBRINK & GUIHER 2014]. 
CommentVenomous!

Type species: Agkistrodon mokasen Palisot de Beauvois, 1799 [= Agkistrodon contortrix (Linnaeus, 1766)] is the type species of the genus Agkistrodon PALISOT DE BEAUVOIS 1799.

Subspecies: The monophyletic Florida subspecies A. piscivorus conanti is now considered as a distinct species (at 4.8% SD), whereas two western subspecies of A. contortrix also appear to constitute a single distinct species, pending additional analyses. Both species of Agkistrodon can be used as suitable ectothermic models to gauge impacts of future climate change (DOUGLAS et al. 2009. Burbrink and Guiher (2014) synonymized the subspecies A. c. contortrix, mokasen, and phaeogaster (in part) into A. contortrix. These authors also split off A. laticinctus as valid species. However, laticinctus hybridizes over a broad area with A. contortrix. 
EtymologyThe generic name comes from the Greek words ancistro, meaning "hook" and odon meaning "tooth," in reference to the curved fangs.
Specific epithet refers to female contortionists, possible reference to dorsal pattern.
Specific epithet of laticinctus refers to colour pattern, derived from Latin latus and cinctus, translated as ‘side’ or ‘broad’ and ‘banded’, respectively. 
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