Date of Award

Fall 1995

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Alan H. Savitsky

Committee Member

Robert K. Rose

Committee Member

Barbara Savitzky

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 P437


Radiotelemetry was used to study seasonal movement patterns, habitat use, and thermal relations of nine copperhead snakes, Agkistrodon contortrix, in southeastern Virginia from May 1993 to May 1995. Daily movements ranged from 0-450 m, with 0-5 m movements accounting for 65% of the observations. The seasonal movements of males were more extensive than those of females. Differences in seasonal movements between the sexes may be due to reproductive activity of the snakes. Both males and females significantly reduced their movements prior to shedding. More time was spent using upland deciduous forests than lowland river swamps or anthropogenic habitat. Copperheads selected open, less vegetated sites within the forest that differed significantly from random forested sites. The snakes hibernated in tree stumps within the upland forest. The results suggest that copperheads are able to survive body temperatures slightly below freezing during the hibernation period.


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