Friday, May 28, 2010

Timber Rattlesnake

With school ending this week, we have been busy with school groups at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest.  It has been a welcome change of pace after a slow April when the weather, water, and wildlife were at their peak!

As we prepare for this year's summer camp and its focus on amphibians and reptiles, it was appropriate that a call came in from one of our naturalists stating that a large Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) was moving across the driveway.  We grabbed our cameras and headed out.  We were not disappointed.  The nearly 4-foot snake appeared to be wrapped in a fresh, bright skin.  Although initially distressed by our close inspection, which it demonstrated with a high, buzzing rattle, the snake soon went about searching for food and paid us little attention.

After thoroughly inspecting a hollow log, the snake moved off into the piney woods with apparent purpose.  The line of travel was straight enough, that we could get ahead of the snake and set up the video camera.  What promised to be amazing video of the large snake moving directly by the video camera evaporated when the camera shut off to conserve power!  The video below shows the snake passing by our location.

Once in a patch of thick pine straw, the snake worked itself into a coil and maneuvered most of its body below the leaves and straw.  From our vantage point, which was not far from the snake, we could not see the animal without binoculars.  The snake will remain in its ambush position until a suitable prey moves within range or until the snake decides that the site is unproductive.  Being cold-blooded, which requires few calories to maintain, and without a "to-do" list, the snake could be in the same spot two weeks from now.

We'll remember to watch out step, if we head off the boardwalk and out into the woods!

Images and video by Mark Musselman

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