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ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Department of Conservation is putting out a warning to “watch your step” because “baby copperhead” season is upon us.

From now through October is when copperhead snakes start giving birth in Missouri.

“It can be anywhere on average from seven up to two dozen babies,” said Matt Ormsby, a naturalist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “It kind of depends on the size of the female. But when the babies are born this is about the size of them.”

Ormsby said copperheads are Missouri’s most common venomous snakes. They can be found along hiking trails, rivers, on rocks, and in forests.

“They can be totally camouflaged in the leaves, in the sun; that’s also how they wait for prey,” he said. “They can coil up in some leaves at the base of a tree and wait for a small squirrel or rodent to come by.”

The MDC said copperhead snakes are not naturally aggressive but if they feel threatened or they’re attacked, they will bite.

“A lot of snake bites they never inject venom because if they inject venom, they can’t eat,” Ormsby said.

He said copperheads will usually save their venom for killing prey most of the time and will slither away from humans.

“Just because they’re venomous doesn’t mean that they are a dangerous animal; that they’re out to get you,” Ormsby said.

Although they are feared by many Missourians, there is an upside to having copperheads around.

“They’re mostly eating small mammals,” he said. “It’s going to help our tick populations because they’re eating those small rodents that will spread these ticks around.”

And if you see one, just remember social distancing.

“We’ve kind of all been engrained this year with that six-foot rule,” Ormsby said. “That’s the same with a lot of these snakes, you just give them six feet of space, they’re going to leave you alone. You’ll be able to admire them and both go about your business.”