Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Timber Rattlesnake

This morning we found a Timber Rattlesnake – dead on the road in our cul de sac. Its head was completely mashed and gone, and part of its tail was also gone. But the rest of its body was still undamaged, lying in an awkward S-shape on the road in the section that goes past a vacant lot grown up in tall grasses and trees. The snake was at least three feet long, and impressively thick around the middle part. A coppery stripe ran like a ribbon down the middle of its back, and a part of the sooty-black tip of its tail remained, but no rattle. The background color of its heavy-looking body was pinkish tan, crossed with jagged black bands.

I wouldn’t want to step on one of these in the woods, of course – where they usually stay. They feed mostly on small mammals like squirrels, chipmunks and rats. They are said to have a secretive nature and to be generally passive unless provoked – though if they are disturbed, they will strike and are venomous.

It’s a rare and interesting experience to see one, and it’s encouraging to know that enough natural habitat remains around here for them to continue to exist – though unfortunately, there’s one less around now.


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