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All black Timber Rattlesnake! 

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Massive rock structures with open areas to bask.

 A perfect rock slide where Timbers may have once denned. An entire population will live in this slide leaving themselves vulnerable to human decimation if discovered.

Rattlesnakes are most often encountered on or near Southerly rocky ledge where the animals bask absorbing warmth from the suns rays.

Rattlesnakes like deep crevices with open tree canopy for basking and plenty of rock.

 Timbers may bask on rock outcroppings like this.

Ledge for Rattlesnake denning. Mountains, hills, rock bluffs, elevated ledge and or rock areas.

On a rocky sun exposed ledge, rock slides, mountains, outcroppings or hills. Rockslides provide basking, food and safety for Rattlesnakes.





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Rattlesnakes are distinct in having a specialized structure at the end of their tail (the rattle) that consists of loosely connected, cornified segments that produce a buzzing sound when the tail is vibrated.


See More: http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/rattlesn.html

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Hahn 1

Stephanie Hahn


Environmental Seminar


Professor Diba Khan-Bureau


Date of Speaker: Wednesday April 23, 2014


Hank Gruner


Timber Rattlesnakes


        “The Rattlesnake being peculiar to this country, is the finest emblem of the United


States that can be found. It never acts but defensively; it never strikes without giving a


fair warning, and when it does strike, it is fatal! (Atkinson)” Hank Gruner was an


absolute pleasure to listen to in class! In this seminar, we learned about the historical


changes of the Timber Rattlesnake in New England. The Timber Rattlesnake is of special


concern and are now listed as endangered species in Connecticut. The little amount of


Timber Rattlesnakes that last now are likely to become extinct. The Timber Rattlesnake


population has declined mostly due to illegal collection and from habitat loss. Land


development is a big contributor to the decline of their population, as well as road


mortality, incidental kill, or in rarer cases snake fungal disease.  This seminar didn’t only


focus on snakes, we also got the chance to learn a little bit about our speaker. In 2007,


Hank Gruner joined the Connecticut Science center as the vice president of Programs


and Exhibits. He began his career as a Wildlife Research Assistant with Connecticut's


Department of Environmental Protection before entering the field of informal science


education as an Environmental Scientist at the Children’s Museum Roaring Brook


Nature Center. Throughout Hank’s career, he has continually been involved in


conservation policy, planning, environmental organizations of the conservation of


biodiversity, etc. He is considered a leading expert in New England on amphibians and


reptiles and is a herpetologist. Hank Gruner graduated from the University of


Connecticut with a Bachelors of Science degree in Natural Resources Management.


Because the Timber Rattlesnake is of special concern not only in Connecticut but


throughout New England, in fact throughout the Northeast and the Southeastern


United States is of significant conservation concern, there is no surprise that Hank


Gruner is involved with educating others about the severity Timber Rattlesnakes are in.


        The Timber Rattlesnake is a large and venomous snake. It measures to be about


on average 38 to 43 inches, with males being slightly larger than the females. The      


dorsalscales are keeled,the head is broad and is noticeably wider than the neck of the


snake.There are a few phases of the Timber Rattlesnake that range anywhere from a


grey,mustard yellow, or black.  “A series of dark bands, often outlined in white or light


yellow, traverse the body. The banding in “black color morphs” may be indistinct.


Occasionally, individuals will have a light rust stripe running along the dorsum, or dark


brown spots that tend to become bands toward the tail. The tail itself is often


completely dark brown or black with no banding (Gruner)”. Some of the Timber


Rattlesnakes are completely black from the head to the tail of the snake. At the end of


the Timber Rattlesnake is the rattle, which is very distinct compared to other


Connecticut snake rattles. The eyes of the Timber Rattlesnake are very much like cats


eyes because of their slit like elliptical pupils. The female rattlesnake is extremely


important, they reproduce every three years and does not reach sex maturity until 7-


13 years of age. Timber Rattlesnakes habitat includes mixed forests with rocky ledges,


you can typically find them, if you are lucky, on a rocky sun exposed ledge, rock slides,


on a mountain, or on a rocky hill. They are snakes that congregate, which means


they’ll use a particular den year after year.


        The status of Timber Rattlesnakes is not very good. They are at least protected by


Connecticut’s endangered and threatened species legislation, however, they are listed


as endangered, threatened or of special concern in many states throughout New


England. They are considered an endangered species in Connecticut and are headed


towards extinction. Their decline in population is directly resulted from indiscriminate


killing, illegal collection, and habitat loss due to land development. Timber Rattlesnakes


“were probably very widespread in colonial times, as evidenced by the many land


features named "rattlesnake." In the past, some Connecticut towns had bounties on


rattlesnakes, and many of the dens were repeatedly decimated. Once documented in


over 20 towns in Connecticut, this snake is now limited to isolated populations in 10


towns”(Gruner). It is unfortunate that they are on the verge of becoming extinct, and


because their home range is around 103-511 acres (which is a lot more compared to


the copperhead) they can encounter many busy roadways while they are venturing


throughout their range. Accidental road kills are very common, and so are road kills


that are done purposely. People fear snakes because they are venomous, but the


likelihood of the Timber Rattlesnake striking is very rare. Timber Rattlesnakes are shy


and usually just want to be left alone. Their venom is used to immobilize their prey


such as  small mammals, birds, frogs, or even other snakes such as garter snakes. If


they feel threatened they will give you a fair warning by shaking their rattle. They are


not territorial nor are they aggressive. They are an amazing creature, and it is


absolutely devastating to see the decline of Timber Rattlesnakes over the years.


        Timber Rattlesnakes age of sex maturity is a lot older compared to a popular snake


in New England, the Northern Copperhead. The female Timber Rattlesnake is extremely


important because they don’t reproduce for a three year cycle, vs the copperhead that


reproduces every two years and sexually matures much earlier than the Timber


Rattlesnake. The Northern Copperhead also has a smaller home range, so they are not


faced with as much of a risk running into predators and land development as Timber


Rattlesnakes are. Point being, other snakes have more of an advantage than Timber


Rattlesnakes do. Timber Rattlesnakes live very long, but land development and


poacher’s are life threatening for these rattlesnakes. It is important to try and keep


Timber Rattlesnakes far away from land development such as roadways, back yards,


etc. By removing typical hiding places for snakes in your yard, like bushes or rocks, and


keeping your grass cut really short are some tips that can keep Timber Rattlesnakes


away. Hank Gruner is an excellent speaker, and i’m really glad he educated the class on


Timber Rattlesnakes. It is such a shame to see they are on the verge of extinction


because of human impacts, I hope Hank Gruner continues to give these seminars so


that the public can be educated on why it is important to protect the Timber





(Atkinson) http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/64888564/


(Bio) http://www.hartford.edu/enhp/news/news_2013/gruner.aspx


(Gruner) http://peabody.yale.edu/collections/vertebrate-zoology/herpetology/timber-rattlesnake


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Interesting Facts: As a member of the "pit viper" family, the timber rattlesnake has facial pits located on each side of its head between the eye and nostril. These pits are sensitive to radiant heat and help the snake detect warm-blooded prey in the darkness. Non-venomous snakes do not have these heat-sensitive pits.

Snakes have poor eyesight; their vision is limited to detecting motion at short distances. Their sense of smell is highly developed. Snakes flick their modified forked tongue in the air, collecting scent particles. They have no ears but can detect vibrations in the ground to determine the size of passing animals, the animals’ direction and distance from the snake. The rattle is an important warning device. Black rat snakes, milk snakes and others mimic a rattling noise by vibrating their tail in dry leaves.

Rattlesnakes have 2 hollow fangs, which are connected to a venom gland and located in the front of the mouth. They are shed periodically and replaced. The primary purpose of venom is to immobilize prey and to aid in digestion. Venom in snakes is not a defensive adaptation. Defensive bites may carry only a fraction of the venom injected in prey.

During the winter months, groups of timber rattlesnakes hibernate together underground in dens in rocky ledges. Many other species of snakes may hibernate in the same den. In mid-April, the rattlesnakes emerge from their dens to bask on the ledges during the day. In May and June, the snakes begin to migrate in a pattern which, by fall, will bring them back to the den. Breeding can occur only in the spring and fall when the males and receptive females are in the same area. The snakes probably travel between 1.3 and 2.5 miles from the den during this seasonal cycle.

In Connecticut, rattlesnake bites are rare. If a bite occurs, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. The victim should remain calm; an increased heart rate will speed up the spread of venom. The traditional snake bite treatment of a tourniquet and sucking out of the venom is not recommended.

Timber rattlesnakes are secretive by nature. They usually detect approaching humans and move away to hide. If a sleeping rattlesnake is encountered, it may recoil into a defensive posture and rattle. When this situation occurs, the best solution is to back away slowly. Snake vision is designed to detect motion; quick movements may further agitate the snake.

AAll Information is from: http://www.ct.gov/dEEP/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=326068&deepNav_GID=1655

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