Copperhead mating

A pair of copperheads mate on a Lancaster County rail-trail on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019.

Jesse Rothacker, 38, has loved snakes and other reptiles since he was a child.

And while Rothacker, president of Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary in Elm, has seen copperheads elsewhere in Pennsylvania and other states, never had he seen one in Lancaster County – until Sunday.

That was despite cycling hundreds of miles on the county's rail-trails over the years, with eyes peeled for them.

It wasn't just one he came across on Sunday's ride. 

It was two copperheads. Mating.

It was like winning the lottery.

An overjoyed Rothacker recorded the pair for several minutes and excitedly described the encounter in the video, which he shared on the sanctuary's Facebook page and with LNP.

"Guys. Do you see that look on my face? Do you see how happy I am right now?" he says to open the video. 

"Right now, you can see they're having a moment," he continues, while describing copperheads' mating habits.

Rothacker said he thinks copperheads are one North America's most beautiful snakes.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Rothacker declined to identify the trail, citing concern about poachers or those who would harm them, perhaps out of fear.

While respect is warranted, fear is misplaced, according to Rothacker, who said cyclists are more likely to get hurt crashing into one another than by getting bit by a copperhead.

"These animals have been here a lot longer than we have," he said.

"Anytime you see a snake, make sure to tell it thank you because they're a very important part of our lives," he said, noting, for instance, that they eat rodents.

Rothacker has been on a bit of snake run lately. A month ago, he recorded a king snake eating its tail.