Pan Fried Copperhead Snake and Snake Skin Tanning

A few weeks ago I was cutting grass and got near the edge of my woods.  I saw a snake leave the yard into the woods. As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly what it was.  I have spent a lot of time outdoors and have never seen a live copperhead. I had seen one dead as roadkill a few years ago.  I sometimes wonder how people see so many of them. Seems like everyone has killed a dozen in their yard. I chalk it up to incorrect ID.  

I jumped off the mower to cut off the snakes escape.  I hadn’t planned on killing it. I scoured over the area and couldn’t find it.  I was bummed out to be honest. I eventually went back to the mower. As soon as I started it I saw it again.  It had barely moved at all. I went right in on it. My wife, son and I watched it a few minutes.

My young son likes to play in this spot and we decided it would be prudent to dispatch the snake.  After the deed was done, I field dressed it and skinned it. It turned out to be a female with 8 eggs.  I typically am very protective over snakes, but really don’t need Copperheads breeding in my yard. Snakes are a protected species in Va.  It’s unlawful to kill them unless they pose a threat to life or property.

After skinning I scraped the inside of the leather then stapled it to a board, salted it and let it dry.  Tanning snake skin is very easy. Mix up a 50/50 mix of Glycerin and rubbing alcohol. Glycerin can be found in the health/beauty aisle most anywhere.  Rub the mixture into the leather until no more is absorbed. Eventually I will make something with the leather. I’m undecided on what yet. But it really is a beautiful skin.  The skin can be used on it’s own, but it can also by glued to a thicker piece of leather with leather adhesive.  

As for the snake meat, and let me tell you there is not much meat on a snake.  There seem to be backstraps on either side of the spine. There is not much else.  I filleted them off. Egg wash, breaded and then pan fried.

It was kind of creepy at first.  It is a lot like chicken. Which is such a cliche, but it’s really a lot like a chewy chicken.  Don’t expect to make much of a meal out of one snake. But if you have to try everything, venomous snake ought to be included. 

Ancient cultures used to believe that consuming animal flesh bestowed upon you their power and traits. Venomous snake flesh must be at the top of those desirable powers.  Make up your own mind on that one, but I’m glad I can say I’ve eaten it and that I used as much of the animal as I could. Don’t tell my wife but I may have slipped my 2yo son a little piece of the fried snake.


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