Vipers and Pitvipers: Viperidae
Timber Rattlesnake (crotalus Horridus): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: The timber rattlesnake is a thick snake, often with dark, sometimes V-shaped blotches running down a black, dark or light brown, yellowish, or gray back. It has a large triangle-shaped head at one end and a black rattle-tipped tail at the other. Adults often reach nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length, and some grow to more than 6 feet (1.8 meters).
Geographic range: They are found in much of the eastern United States.
Habitat: Timber rattlesnakes prefer rocky ledges on hills, although they travel into nearby forests, especially in the warmer months.
Diet: They have only six to twenty meals a year, but when they do eat, they hunt for mammals, and sometimes birds, lizards, frogs, insects, and other snakes.
Behavior and reproduction: Timber rattlesnakes spend much of their time either sunbathing, also known as basking, or sitting still to wait for their next meal to wander within striking distance. In the winter, this snake hibernates either alone or in groups. Females only mate once every two, three, or four years, giving birth to between three and nineteen live baby snakes at a time. The young snakes must reach four to nine years old before they can mate and have their own young.
Timber rattlesnakes and people: Bites to humans are uncommon but can be dangerous, although rarely fatal.
Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ∎
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