It’s mating season for copperhead snakes, which means the snakes are traveling more than normal — and this week, the National Park Service spotted a northern copperhead near the Mall.
Officers snapped a picture of the snake wrapped around a chain-link fence Monday in East Potomac Park. Although infrequently seen at the Mall, copperheads — which are venomous, but rarely have fatal bites — are common in the Washington area, the Park Service said.
If you spot one, you should “remain calm and move away slowly,” the Park Service said on Facebook.
Scott Smith, a wildlife ecologist with Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, said the recent rainfall is “driving a lot of critters out of their normal habitat,” which could be another reason the copperhead ended up on a fence on Park Service land in Southwest Washington.
He said anyone bitten by a copperhead should seek immediate medical attention and not try to treat the bite themselves.
“Like all wildlife in national parks, the copperhead is a protected species,” the Park Service Facebook post read. “And with up to 80% of their diet consisting of rodents, copperheads provide a very valuable service in controlling those populations in the park!”