Photo credit:

Courtenay Harding

Common name

Timber/Canebrake Rattlesnake

Scientific name

Crotalus horridus

Conservation Status

Least Concern
Declining

Federal and State Protections

Federal Protection - Canada (likely extirpated)
State Protected - Maine (extirpated), Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Texas, New York, New Hampshire, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Connecticut, Vermont, Kansas, Maryland, Oklahoma, Illinois
Other -"Canebrake" Subpopulation State Protected in Virginia, Under consideration for state protection in Nebraska

Countries of Occurrence

United States of America, Canada

Adult size

36-60 inches (90-152 cm)
Record size: 74.5 in. (189.2 cm)

States or Providence 

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky,Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Ontario (extirpated), Maine (extirpated), Rhode Island (extirpated)

Counties

Numerous

Species Description

The Timber Rattlesnake; also called the Canebrake Rattlesnake in the coastal south, is a large-bodied species of rattlesnake found in a variety of habitats. Most often it is found in hardwood hillsides, mountain valleys, forest edges, but southern populations may also occupy cypress swamps, barrier islands, and pine thickets. It is also highly variable across its range, with individuals coming in shades of black, tan, brown gray and even pinkish-lavender in parts of Georgia and Florida.
Squirrels make up the majority of prey, especially in southeastern sections of their range, but they will target and eat a wide variety of mammalian prey, and even ground-nesting birds such as quail.

This species is particularly vulnerable to road development, as individuals are often killed crossing roads at dawn and dusk. In northern or montane populations, individuals that avoid roads often end up being cut-off from critical hunting habitat or hibernacula.

Timber and Canebrake rattlesnakes are one of only a handful of rattlesnake species with recorded arboreal (tree-climbing) behavior, and possibly the largest of any rattlesnake to do so.

A subpopulation from lower South Carolina down into north-central Florida possess a potent neurotoxic venom which is considered similar in structure & lethality to the infamous Mojavetoxin of their western sister-species, Crotalus scutalatus. However, they are quite passive, calm, and unlikely to strike.

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