Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
  Danger- Poisonous

Description: Dark brown spots that often merge to form rough bands on a tan to gray back. Top of head fairly plain unlike the bold patterns seen in the Massasauga. Often a reddish stripe down the back.

Habitat: Prefers forested areas with rocky outcrops.

Size: 11-60 inches long, the biggest of our rattlers.

Diet: Small mammals and other small vertebrates.

Natural History: When disturbed the Timber Rattlesnake typically sounds a warning by rattling its tail. This snake has likely been extirpated in many areas of eastern Nebraska. Some of the reduction of this species may be due to habitat loss, but much of it probably results from snakes being kill on sight by humans.

Timber rattlesnakes often hibernate in large dens during the winter. Such dens may contain hundreds of rattlesnakes. This behavior tends to concentrate snakes in small areas as the emerge from their dens in the spring.

Special sensory pits are used to 'see' infrared light. This makes the pit a heat detector and allows this snake to hunt warm blooded small mammals in total darkness.

This snake is a 'sit and wait' predator. It often coils up and waits quietly for its prey to come within striking distance. Camouflage coloration makes this motionless snake difficult to see. Care should be taken when in rattlesnake habitat to watch your step and look before putting your hand near ground.

Timber Rattlesnakes do not lay eggs, females give live birth to 11 inch snakes. The young have a simple button rattle. Rattle segments are added each time the snakes sheds its skin. Warning: new born rattlers are small, but they are venomous.

Similar species:

  1. Rattle
  2. Body marked with jagged bands, lacks the numerous round blotches of smaller Massasauga, the only other rattlesnake that also occurs in SE Nebraska.
  3. Often a reddish stripe down the back.
  4. Tail black in adults