Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus Horridus)


Photo courtesy of: David Kisner

The Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus Horridus) is the most dangerous species found in the state of West Virginia. The Timber Rattlesnake is usually a docile snake and prefers retreat over striking. They are known to use their rattle to warn potential predators. Backing it into a corner or being perceived as a threat will likely result in a strike. Strikes from this snake are extremely fast and it may land multiple strikes before you can even react or move away. This species is found primarily in remote, rocky, mountainous sections of the state and rarely exceed 6 feet in length. It has brown or black chevron-shaped markings down its back with a background color that may vary from bright yellow to a dull gray and even entirely black specimens have even been recorded. The most prominent identifier would have to be its segmented rattle located at the tip of its tail.


The Timber Rattlesnake feasts on a diet composed of mainly small mammals, but may include birds, frogs, and other snakes. While they are capable of cannibalism the most commonly eaten snake would be garter snakes. Reproduction produces anywhere from 3 to 19, but usually about 8, young which are 10-19 inches in length.  If bitten by this species common symptoms include swelling, severe pain, tingling, weakness, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, hemorrhaging, perspiration, and eventually heart failure. Local pain following envenomation is often intense, increasing with the ensuing edema. With modern medicine, bites are rarely lethal to humans and you have an almost 99% recovery rate if antivenom is administered less than two hours after the bite. PROMPT MEDICAL ATTENTION IS REQUIRED!! As a dangerous venomous fast striking snake, I'd advise against this one for pet owners. The pit vipers habit of congregating at dens creates situations where considerable numbers of rattlesnakes and copperheads can be seen at one time.


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