Copperheads don’t reproduce after severe drought

Female copperhead snakes stop reproducing after severe drought. According to a study published in Scientific Reports none of the dozens of monitored female copperhead snakes (Agkistrodon contortrix) in a forest near Meriden, Conn. produced offspring the year after a five-year drought ended. During the drought, few snakes reproduced. “We saw that every year the drought wore on, there were fewer pregnant females, and the year after the drought ended there were no pregnant females at the site,” said Mark Davis, a conservation biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois and one of the authors of the study, in a press release. Over this period several seasonal wetlands dried up completely while permanent wetlands dried up for part of the year. The lack of wetlands meant less snake prey like frogs and tadpoles.

Read the study in Scientific Reports.

Header Image: A five-year drought halted copperhead snake reproduction in Connecticut. ©Chuck Smith