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.
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 6 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 over 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!
This is not the only venomous snake to inhabit this reservation, the other being the Copperhead which has a highly distinctive orange color. They 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!
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