Skip Navigation

Species Search:
threatened and/or endangered

Timber Rattlesnake Crotalus horridus


enlarge +

Timber Rattlesnake, Northern form
credit: Jonathunder

All Images

1 article:

Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Family: Viperidae, Pit Vipers view all from this family

Description Tan/brown with dark stripes across back. Orange/brown line down middle of back. Unmarked head. 23-25 keeled scales. Black tail.

Dimensions 88.9-189.2cm. (95-74 1/2")

Warning Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Cottonmouths belong to a group of snakes known as pit vipers. These dangerous snakes have a heat-sensitive sensory organ on each side of the head that enables them to locate warm-blooded prey and strike accurately, even in the dark. The curved, hollow fangs are normally folded back along the jaw. When a pit viper strikes, the fangs rapidly swing forward and fill with venom as the mouth opens. The venom is a complex mixture of proteins that acts primarily on a victim's blood tissue. If you hear a rattlesnake shaking its rattle, back away. The snake is issuing a warning, and if the warning is ignored it may bite. There are many factors (temperature being the most important) that determine how a snake will react when confronted by a human. Venomous snakes should always be observed from a safe distance. Pit vipers are never safe to handle. Even dead ones can retain some neurological reflexes, and "road kills" have been known to bite. How to avoid and treat snakebites

Breeding Breeds in spring, after hibernation. Alternative years. 5-17 live young. 25-33cm (10-13") long born August- October. Females breed at 4/5 years.

Habitat Wooded hillsides and rocky outcrops.

Range Maine through Florida. Minnesota and Texas.

Discussion Hibernates in winter, active April-October. Often hibernate with Copperheads and rat snakes. Wait for prey, coiled up. Rats, squirrels and mice form diet. Motionless if approached even by prey until it strikes. Longest living over 30 years.