Some country dwelling old timers give warning of a dangerous crossbreeding of two snakes — the copperhead and the black snake. The resulting combination is worse than a mere copperhead! This story is convincing to many young newcomers. Why would these old-timers misinform others suggesting they should eliminate both varieties of snake from their properties. Is the tale true? Do black snakes and copperheads crossbreed, or, even though sincerely believed, just a myth?
Blacksnakes and Copperheads: Cellular Level
References listed below assure us it is not only a myth but also an impossibility. These two snake varieties are of different species (strike one). Blacksnake cells differ fundamentally from those of the copperhead in their number of chromosomes (strike two). A difference in chromosome count is critical when it comes to crossbreeding.
Also copperheads are live bearing snakes, whereas black rat snakes are egg-layers (strike three—you’re out!). Doubtless you now realize (if you didn’t beforehand) that black snakes and copperheads, even though they may live in close proximity, do not – indeed they CANNOT – crossbreed.
Note: You might also enjoy Outcome of a Dog Bitten by a Copperhead
- Penn State University: The Virtual Nature Trail
- Missouri Department of Conservation: Reflections: Ask the Ombudsman