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.
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.
Professor Diba Khan-Bureau
Date of Speaker: Wednesday April 23, 2014
“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
AAll Information is from: http://www.ct.gov/dEEP/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=326068&deepNav_GID=1655