Herpetofauna: One Life's List

Crotalus horridus
Timber Rattlesnake

St. Louis Co., Missouri.  April 20, 1982.

I found my first Timber Rattlesnake in a tree, twenty five feet off the ground.  Along the Missouri river are bluffs that run for miles, and in  places there are good den sites for rattlesnakes to hole up during the winter.  The trick is to be there when the snakes are emerging, which in Missouri would be around the middle of April.

So there I was, in the right place at the right time, scanning the ledges along the bluffs, and the ground at the base.  Alonzo, my friend and frequent herping companion, spotted a Black Rat Snake in a tree growing up from the base of the bluffs, and as we were looking at it, he spotted a Timber Rattler in the next tree over!  The top photo shows Alonzo clambering upward towards the snake, which I have highlighted with a red arrow underneath.  He managed to get the rattler out of the tree, and we spent quite a bit of time examining the creature.  It only rattled once, and briefly, doing its best to crawl away from us.  This was our first rattlesnake of any kind!

I saw a second Timber that day under even more unusual circumstances. Climbing up a section of bluff, I spotted a fist-sized hole above my head, a perfect spot for a handhold. A little voice in my head said 'you had better look in that hole before you put your hand in it." Sure enough, when I raised my head high enough I could see a large golden triangle that was the head of an adult horridus, which slowly pulled back into what was a rather deep hole in the bluff.  Sometimes it pays to listen to the voices in your head...






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