Woman Spots Extremely Rare Massive Rattlesnake on Trail Near Boston

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Continue reading for our analysis...

A Timber Rattlesnake striking prey
© Joe McDonald/Shutterstock.com

Key Points:

  • Timber rattlesnakes are native to all six New England states but are extremely rare and one of the most endangered species in Massachusetts.
  • Their habitat is being destroyed by human development and this species does not adapt well to change so timber rattlesnake numbers are declining.
  • These snakes avoid human contact as much as possible so we’re lucky we have the footage in this video thanks to the quick-thinking hiker, Sarah Kleinman, who filmed it in the Blue Hills Reservation. Very few people have seen a fully grown timber rattlesnake up close.

Rattlesnake sightings are not out of the ordinary in many parts of the U.S. However, the large timber rattlesnake is one of the most endangered of this group of snakes and sightings are very rare. One lucky hiker, nurse Sarah Kleinman, didn’t just spot one, she managed to capture what she describes as “the biggest snake I’ve ever seen” on her cellphone as it slid gracefully across her path.

The encounter took place at a reservation park and at first, the hiker thought that it must have escaped from nearby Franklyn Park Zoo. But when wildlife experts viewed the footage, they were able to tell her that timber rattlesnakes are native to all six New England states but are now exceptionally rare. They are one of the most endangered species in Massachusetts.

Timber rattlesnaake coiled in a loop

Timber rattlesnakes are well camouflaged and endangered, so sighting one is very unusual.

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©Frode Jacobsen/Shutterstock.com

These guys are the third-largest venomous snake in the United States and grow to five feet in length. Although, the largest ever recorded was over six feet. Because they are apex predators, very few animals will take them on. Only an owl or a skunk would give it a go! They are highly venomous and can be harmful to humans.

Populations have been declining in this area for more than 150 years and there are now only a few areas left where they are found. The Blue Hills Reservation is one area where they are able to survive. They now have the status of an endangered species and it is illegal to disturb them. Timber rattlesnakes are viviparous, so the females give birth to between three and 13 live baby snakes. However, their habitat is being destroyed by human development and this species does not adapt well to change so their numbers are declining.

Apart from their size, you can tell a timber rattlesnake by its yellow/brown/grey head and a distinctive dark line that extends from each eye to its jaw. They like to live in deciduous forests with steep terrain and hunt other snakes and small mammals. They avoid human contact as much as possible so this type of footage is rare and we are lucky to view it thanks to this quick-thinking hiker. Very few people have seen a fully grown timber rattlesnake up close. They spend most of the time coiled up waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass them by so it is amazing to see one on the move like this!

Close up of a Timber Rattlesnake eye

The timber rattlesnake has a yellow/brown/grey head and a black, green, and brown scaling pattern.

©Scott Delony/Shutterstock.com

This is not the only venomous snake to inhabit this reservation, the other being the copperhead, which has a highly distinctive orange color. These snakes are very well camouflaged in fallen leaves and often get trodden on — which makes them lash out and bite. This explains why copperhead bites are more common than rattlesnake bites!

Copperhead Snake (Agkistrodon contortrix)

Copperheads also inhabit the Blue Hills Reservation where the timber rattlesnake was filmed.

©Creeping Things/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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