Went to step out my front door on Thursday morning and noticed this guy was guarding our home.
Pictures and phone calls and a lot of screaming like a little girl later it was confirmed to be a copperhead snake. I will state this so you know - copperhead snakes are nothing to fool around with. They are venomous and their bites are very painful.
That said, this is how to react when you find a copperhead snake on your front porch:
1 - Scream, unless you saw him from a distance. Then it is ok just to act calm and collected. I screamed and it was on the other side of a wood door from me.
2 - Grab something, anything (I grabbed a 4-iron, your distance may vary). This is not to actually kill the snake, but to give you a little piece of mind that there is no way a snake would strike you if you are holding a 4-iron. It is important to remember here that a 4-iron is not the correct tool to go after a copperhead. It is more important to know why: because a snake like this has quite a range of attack, it can spring itself out probably longer than a 4-iron and to think you are even remotely safe with any kind of stick in your hands is a foolish, foolish thought.
So stay back. That goes for your children and your pets, both of which you are responsible for.
3 - Take pictures if you can. They will come in handy when you are trying to identify the snake to your pest control guy.
On the topic of pest control guys, you can call one, but do NOT expect them to arrive at your house while the snake is still hanging around. Also, do not fall for the "We have a $150 snake special going on right now so we'll be on our way over. How does 2:30 sound?" Snakes are generally just passing through looking for food or water or shade to get out of the heat. They are really not there to eat you on purpose, only if you do something stupid. Even then, they aren't thrilled by the idea of taking down something so much bigger than them. Allow them, encourage them, to slither away. No harm, no foul. Save your $150 for your trip to the emergency room.
Actually, you probably really don't have a snake problem to begin with. You probably have a mouse or rat or chipmunk or mole problem. Take away those critters and you take away the snakes, which will glide off to find food somewhere else.
You may also have a snake habitat problem. Try mowing your grass shorter. Snakes are not a fan of short grass - it provides no relief from the sun. Also be careful where you spread pine straw this time of year. Mounding it up under shrubs provides snakes with a place to camp out. It is also bad form to do your spring planting near your house without first raking back the pine straw near the house to check for snakes.
One other quick thing. Remember how proud you were when you killed that black snake last week? Bad move. Black snakes are beneficial to keeping down your critter control population, and they are natural enemies of the copperhead. Seems the black snake can survive the venom from a copperhead bite better than a copperhead can survive being squeezed to death by a black snake. Just sayin' not all snakes are your enemy.
However all snakes are scary, to me anyway. I'd rather not have anything to do with any of them.
One more other quick thing. If you are of the mind that your are going to kill your copperhead, don't let it out of your sight until you kill it. Taking a shovel (do not use a spade) and chopping it in half is not a death blow. Half a copperhead is still trouble and will still attack you. The optimum kill shot is severed right behind the head. Even then, the body will still wiggle about, and the head may still open and shut, so give it all some time to settle down.
If your copperhead weapon of choice is a gun, make sure you can legally shoot it wherever you are.
If you are lucky a vulture will swoop down and take the dead body. Seriously. For something that considers road kill a delicacy, vultures are pretty clean birds and will do an amazing job of cleaning up most of the dead snake.
So pay attention, the snakes are out early this year due to early warm weather. Be on alert for the little rodenty animals that make up a snakes diet and control them. And remember, just because it doesn't have any shoulders doesn't mean it isn't helpful.