NOTES FROM YOUR ACO

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Hello:


Periodically, I will be sharing  information on pets, wildlife and other relevant topics on this page. The intention is to keep you, our residences, informed with information that will help you and your pets be a happy and healthy.


Feel free to contact me with questions or concerns regarding animal control issues at (973) 500-8319. There are additional contacts listed on adjoining pages.


Scott Hendricks

TIMBER RATTLESNAKE Crotalus horridus horridus

Timber Rattlesnakes are ENDANGERED and receive full protection under the law.

IDENTIFICATION

Timber rattlesnake colors and patterns are highly variable geographically. In New Jersey, two color morphs occur - yellow or black. An average of 24 dark brown or black body blotches, crossbands or both are found from the neck to the base of the tail. Often the crossbands are not complete near the head but by mid-body they join to form crossbands having the shape of a chevron. A dark color (black or brown) is found on the last few inches of the tail. Black morphs have a black head and may have much black color throughout whereas yellow morphs have a yellow or light tan head color.

The timber rattlesnake’s most distinguishing characteristic is its rattle. The rattle is composed of interlocking segments of dry, horny, keratinized skin that are not lost during shedding. When frightened, rattlesnakes vibrate their tails making a buzzing sound. This acts as a warning signal to predators.

DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT

Timber rattlesnakes are found in two separate regions of the state. In northern NJ they are found in the mountainous portions of Warren, Sussex, Passaic, Morris and Bergen counties. In southern NJ they are found in the Pinelandsregion and nearby portions of Cumberland, Ocean, Burlington and Atlantic counties.

LIFE CYCLE

In New Jersey, rattlesnakes usually enter the den from mid-September to early November and emerge from hibernation between early April and mid-May. Rattlesnakes return to the same den, and often the same crevice, every year.

Upon emergence in the Spring, rattlesnakes remain in the vicinity of the den and bask when the weather is suitable. As the temperature warms and becomes more consistent, snakes begin to migrate away from the den and into the surrounding forest to forage. They tend to use the same general summer foraging habitat year after year.

Timber rattlesnakes have long life spans, often up to 25 years. However, they have a low reproductive rate. Females in NJ generally reproduce at three or four year intervals. Their age at first reproduction is generally nine or ten years. They have very small litters usually ranging from six to nine young. Mating generally occurs from mid-July through early September. 

Timber rattlesnakes, or any other snake, rarely if ever bite without being provoked. Nearly all cases of snakebites occur when untrained people attempt to handle them. Snakes will bite in self-defense but will never attack a person. If given the opportunity they will always attempt to escape.


The picture is a 4' rattlesnake relocated at Walnut Valley Road, Columbia in mid-July.

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