Timber Rattlesnake

 

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Range: Eastern United States, formerly the widest ranging Rattlesnake in the U.S.  Expatriated from much of its former range.

 

 

Habitat: Terrestrial animal found in varied dry and wetland habitats with a distinct preference for wooded areas. 

Natural Diet: Small mammals and occasional birds. 

Diet at Rain Forest: Pre-killed rodents 

Size: 3-5 feet  Tends to be larger in the southern portions of its range.  Northern populations rarely exceed 4 feet.

Rain Forest Facts: The most highly variable of all rattle snakes when it comes to color patterns.  The Timber rattlesnake can be almost entirely black or in some cases very lightly colored.  Geographical range appears to have a significant influence on the color patterns of the snake. 

In spite of the fact that this snake is decreasing in number, it is still the most frequently encountered of all rattlesnakes by most people in the eastern United States.   The Appalachian and Smoky Mountains are still home to fairly stable populations of Timber Rattlesnakes.  Suitable habitats and protection in National Parks has led to a reasonably stable population.

True ambush predators, the Timber rattlesnake is not easily excitable, instead this snake will tend to remain motionless and will rarely "rattle" unless truly disturbed. 

Great caution should be taken while hiking or rock climbing, as this snake does contain a powerful hemotoxin capable of causing serious injury to humans. 

Status in Wild: Threatened in majority of previous range due to habitat destruction and over collection for Rattlesnake roundups.   

Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, and Ohio all list the Timber rattlesnake as an endangered species.  The animal is listed as threatened in New York, Indiana, and Illinois. 

Interestingly enough, interviews with local farmers in rural areas such as Galena, Il still produce tales of dense populations of timber rattlesnakes in spite of field work that clearly points to the contrary.  This belief that the snake is still widespread brings up interesting debates about the psychological impact of living amongst venomous snakes.

One problem which is unique to this species of rattlesnake, is the animals propensity to den in the same cavity year after year.  Once the den is destroyed or discovered by rattlesnake hunters, the animals are often destroyed in huge numbers. 

It is widely believed that female rattlesnakes must be at least 8-10 years old to breed for the first time. 

Click here for book on Venomous U.S. Snakes

 

  THIS SPECIES IS CURRENTLY NOT ON DISPLAY AT RAINFOREST

 

RainForest Adventures zoo, Smoky Mountains, Tennessee near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN