Photo by Dave Caudle
Photo by Mark Bailey
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Crotalus horridus
OTHER NAMES: Banded rattlesnake, velvet-tailed rattler, canebrake
STATUS: Fairly common to uncommon statewide, except for extreme southern Alabama. Declining or absent from many formerly inhabited areas because of direct persecution, habitat fragmentation, and gradual loss of deciduous and mixed forest types, but still apparently secure in some areas. Lowest Conservation Concern.
DESCRIPTION: Timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) are heavy-bodied snakes with a broad head that is distinct from its narrow neck. Adult timber rattlesnakes average 36 to 60 inches in total length. The coloration of this species varies from blackish to yellowish to pinkish, or grayish with dark, bent crossbands aligned along the dorsal length of its body. On many specimens a reddish dorsal stripe runs between the crossbands. The velvety black tail is short and thick, tipped with a tan rattle. Some people refer to the timber rattlesnakes found in the southern
DISTRIBUTION: The timber rattlesnake is found from New England to northern
HABITAT: Timber rattlesnakes inhabit upland and lowland habitats such as hardwood forest with rocky outcrops, pine flatwoods, bottomland hardwood forests, and cane thickets.
FEEDING HABITS: Timber rattlesnakes eat small mammals such as mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and occasionally frogs and birds.
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: Timber rattlesnakes mate during late summer and fall. From five to 20 young are born the following year from August through October. Timber rattlesnakes may migrate short distances after mating to feed during the summer. Timber rattlesnakes hibernate in a den during the winter, forming a winter colony. These dens may be in old stumps, mammal burrows, and rock crevices.
Collins, Henry Hill, 1981. Harper and Row’s Complete Guide to North American Wildlife, Eastern Edition, Harper and Row, Publishers, New York, NY. 714 pp.
Conant, Roger, 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central
AUTHOR: Tracy Nelson, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries