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Conservation & Research Programs

Research Programs

The Rattlesnake Conservancy is committed to conservation and research programs that provide on-the-ground benefit to species, are measurable, and will provide needed information about those species. To better focus our conservation efforts, we formed a series of Conservation Working Groups, comprised of species experts, to better advise our organization on current, future, and needed conservation and research programs for rattlesnakes.

Our Scientific Advisory Board and working groups are analyzing the 88 known species and subspecies (+/-, pending taxonomic revisions) of rattlesnakes to determine their current conservation status, identifying data gaps, prioritizing research needs, and ascertaining what species have the greatest need for conservation action.

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Species of Research Focus

Every year, our team expands the species of rattlesnakes our programs will focus on and where we can make meaningful conservation impacts. We are committed to adaptive management of rattlesnakes and their habitat, changing our approach and species focus based on the best available science. As new information emerges, we will update our conservation programs and commit resources to where we can make the greatest impacts for rattlesnakes in North and South America.

Click on the pictures to see what species our programs are currently focused on! 

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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)

Timber/canebrake Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)
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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)

Timber/canebrake Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

South American Rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus cascavella)
Arizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi willardi)
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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)

Timber/canebrake Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)

Timber/canebrake Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

Arizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi willardi)
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Research Projects

In addition to providing much needed grant funding for research of rattlesnakes internationally, our team carries out research programs right here in the U.S.! Our research programs are focused on helping us better understand the ecology of rattlesnakes, conservation program effectiveness, population monitoring of at-risk populations of rattlesnakes, and disease monitoring.

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Recovering the Threatened New Mexico Ridge-nosed

After discovering odd symptoms of muscle wasting, weight loss, regurgitation, and lethargy in several wild snake species, our team decided to investigate. Since then, we have identified the culprit in some populations to be a virus called atadenovirus. This virus is more widely known from bearded dragons, but our team have detected this virus in several wild snake species. To date, we have seen the virus in cottonmouths, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, and canebrake rattlesnakes in Florida.

Our team is continuing to monitor this virus and other pathogens in wild snakes. If you are interested in participating and would like a copy of our protocol, please email info@savethebuzztails.org

Collaboration and Curation

The Rattlesnake Conservancy believes that partnership and collaboration in conservation is the most important factor in ensuring success. To that end, we are partnering with researchers from universities across the U.S.A. and other countries through our working groups, research projects, and grant funding mechanisms.

Likewise, we recognize that data availability is extremely important to creating robust scientific studies that will benefit rattlesnakes. Often, samples and research data from long forgotten studies can be difficult to find. Samples may be sitting in the freezer of a researcher, longing to be studied by a budding graduate student, or raw research data may be sitting on the hard drive of a professor who never had time to crunch the numbers. To help ensure availability of this information, we have begun a catalogue of rattlesnake research data and samples. If you are a researcher and are trying to track down data for a species of interest, please contact us to request information.

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Pitviper Pathogen and Disease Monitoring

After discovering odd symptoms of muscle wasting, weight loss, regurgigation, and lethargy in several wild snake species, our team decided to investigate. Since then, we have identified two novel viruses. To date, we have detected viral pathogens in cottonmouths, eastern diamondbacks, and canebrake rattlesnakes in Florida.

Our team is continuing to monitor these viruses and other pathogens in wild snakes. If you are interested in participating in sample collection, please contact us at info@savethebuzztails.org.

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Eastern Diamondback Population Status

In collaboration with researchers at the University of South Florida, we are actively collecting venom samples from throughout the range of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake to better understand population dynamics, threats to the species, and how we can better inform conservation actions.

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Eastern Massasauga Monitoring

In partnership with the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, TRC is providing training, equipment, and manpower to help monitor the health of known EMR populations and potentially detect undiscovered ones. Understanding the size and locations of EMR populations helps to identify new threats and diseases, guide land management decisions like where and when to conduct prescribed burns, and tap into conservation funding that helps preserve habitats that support EMRs and other rare species.

2023 was the first year of this partnership and it mostly focused on hands-off survey efforts. Eventually we plan to begin regular disease testing for these animals and implanting PIT tags so we can identify individuals. It’ll allow us not only to see if animals are present at a site, but also help us monitor the population size and be alerted to any changes we should be concerned about.

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Project Obscurus

The Rattlesnake Conservancy was awarded a  Recovery Challenge Grant from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2023 to support conservation and recovery of the New Mexico ridgenosed rattlesnake, a federally listed species known from only three locations (two in the United States, one in Mexico). This rare rattlesnake lives in high elevation mountains in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, near the junction of the borders of the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Chihuahua, and Sonora. The three populations are declining due to threats from droughts and wildfires. This project will help rattlesnakes by 1) studying environmental factors important to the rattlesnake (including temperature and humidity) across areas where the rattlesnake lives, 2) helping to continue efforts to find more rattlesnakes within and near areas where they have been previously found, 3) capturing rattlesnakes so they can be bred in captivity at zoos, 4) moving rattlesnakes to one area in the US where rattlesnakes appear to be declining, and 5) providing more information about this rattlesnake to the public. During and upon completing the project, The Rattlesnake Conservancy will work with partners to produce scientific articles, reports, and educational material for the public that will highlight the biology, 

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