How can I tell the difference between a corn snake and a copperhead snake?

Question: I feel terrible! I killed a harmless little snake which looked like a copperhead. It was a native red corn snake, which I now know is rare because people always kill it. Is there a way to tell a good snake from a poisonous one?

Answer: The eyes of poisonous snakes have a slit pupil, like a cat's eye. The eyes of harmless snake have round pupils. Poisonous snakes also have a more angular head and a pit in front of the eyes. See our online publication, "Snakes" for illustrations. Now you can also enjoy many YouTube videos about various native snakes and turtles on our website. Snakes are very beneficial to humans, eating rodents and other vermin. The only poisonous snakes in Maryland are copperheads and timber rattlesnakes. Copperheads are shy and their coloring and pattern is very similar to corn snakes, but the copperhead has a dark-colored hourglass shape sideways on its back.


Avoid irrigating your lawn so it does not attract egg-laying Japanese beetle adults.

Cut back perennials such as yarrow and salvia to encourage rebloom.