Copperhead snake spotted near National Mall

The National Park Service is warning people walking around the nation's capital to be aware of copperhead snakes after one was spotted earlier this week as mating season has arrived.

A northern copperhead was found wrapped around a chain-linked fence at East Potomac Park along the Potomac River on Monday.

"At first I walked right past it and I thought it was a twig. I was pretty shocked," said Leslie Frattaroli of the National Park Service.

Park officials said these snakes are not seen much on the National Mall, but they are common in Washington D.C.

"It was probably a lot of the flooding that we had that might have displaced it," said Frattaroli. "But right now, it is the mating season and then they have a second mating season in September, and that is when we have also had sightings - in the fall."

"Copperheads are known to expand their home range this time of year in search of mates," the National Park Service wrote on Facebook. "They are the only venomous snakes in the city, but their bites are rarely fatal; if you see one, remain calm and move away slowly. Like all wildlife in national parks, the copperhead is a protected species. And with up to 80% of their diet consisting of rodents, copperheads provide a very valuable service in controlling those populations in the park!"

The best advice when encountering these venomous snakes - keep your distance.

"A lot of the times, the snakes aren't really aggressive and they want you away as much as you want to be away from them," Frattaroli said.