The Timber Rattlesnake

(Crotalus horridus horridus)

There is no greater thrill than seeing a timber rattlesnake up close in the wild. They are timid, quiet and unassuming and will strike only when they feel threatened. As long as we respect the snakes’ domain and do not disrupt their natural behaviors, they can be observed and appreciated at a safe distance.


There are many studies being done for the conservation and management of rattlesnakes in New York State. Field biologists have been doing research for more than 30 years to learn what they can about the behavior and habitats of the timber rattlesnake. Efforts are being made in other states as well to protect and preserve the species. It is a challenging effort with both commercial and residential development displacing dens and habitats. Education is a key factor in protecting the species, as well as enforcing laws that prohibit poaching and selling of snakes.


In New York State the Timber Rattlesnake is a threatened species on the Endangered Species List. There is a fine for handling or possessing a snake without a license.

Timber Rattlesnake Encounters in the Wild

1. If you come upon a snake in the wild, leave it alone. Give it lots of room and chances are, it will either remain still while you walk by, or it will move along to get out of your way. Rattlesnakes will not instigate an encounter unless provoked.


2. If you find a live snake in the road, do not attempt to move it or run it over. Call authorities so they can decide whether or not to pick it up to relocate it.


3. If you find a dead snake in the road, DO NOT TOUCH IT OR PICK IT UP. A dead snake can still inject venom. Leave it alone and call the authorities.


4. Timber rattlesnake bites are very rare. However, if you are bitten by a rattlesnake, do not attempt to treat the bite site yourself. Seek medical attention immediately.

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