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Virginia Living Museum
Timber Rattlesnake

Timber RattlesnakeTimber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) are one of three venomous snakes of Virginia. In the state, there are two separate populations. Timber rattlesnakes are found in the mountains and piedmont areas, whereas the Canebrake rattlesnake is found in the southeast corner of the state.

Timber rattlesnakes are very heavy bodied snakes reaching lengths upwards of five and a half feet. Their coloration ranges from yellow to black with darker bands crossing the body. Like all vipers, the rattlesnake has heat sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils used to detect prey. The most noticeable feature about this snake is the very unique rattles on the end of the tail. The rattles are used for defense to ward off potential predators if the snake feels threatened.

After emerging in the spring, both males and females migrate from their hibernacula to their summer home range, which can be as large as three miles in diameter! Rattlesnakes will engage in combat dances to gain access to females. Rattlesnakes give live birth, though only once every two to three years. An average litter size may range from six to eight young. From birth, the babies are fully equipped with rattle and venom!

Canebrake rattlesnakes have been listed as state endangered in Virginia since 1992. Because of their listing, it is illegal to take, transport, process, or sell canebrake rattlesnakes. Because of their unique and large home ranges, rattlesnake populations have declined due to habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation which alter the habitat too dramatically.

Rattlesnake information from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

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