Livingston County, NY
Identification- VENOMOUS. 36-60" A very large, heavy bodied snake. Comes in two color phases. Black phase very dark with faint crossbands on entire length of body. All black individuals are not uncommon. Yellow phase has dark crossbands on light yellow to brown background color. Both phases have all black tail. Rattlesnakes are easily distinguished from other snakes in our area by the large triangular head, elliptical pupils, and rattle at the end of the tail.
Range- Uncommon and local. May be found in central, south, and east New York south through Pennsylvania.
Habitat- Den sites often with large boulders and many crevices in which the snakes can hide. The den sites I am familiar with have much open area and shrubby, low ground cover. Den sites are most commonly in upland habitats. During summer the males and non-breeding females migrate to more lowland habitats with more ground cover.
Reproduction- Ovoviviparous. Females breed every other to every third year. Typically 5-12 young born in early to late July. Young measure 10-12" at birth and are every bit as venomous as their parents. Females mate in years they do not breed.
neonate, black phase and yellow phase
Bradford County, PA
The largest snake in our area in terms of sheer bulk. Rattlesnakes were once common and found throughout the state, but with the destruction of habitat and direct persecution by the European settlers Timber Rattlesnakes became rare and local. They are still declining due to loss of habitat and wanton killing. They are our only Rattlesnake other than the highly endangered Massassauga. Den sites are used year after year and are shared by Rat Snakes, Black Racers, and Copperheads. They are often found on remote wooded hillsides with a southern exposure, but that doesn't mean they are easy to find. People guard the location of den sites and are hesitant to give them away. Often Timber Rattlesnakes rattle their tail as a warning, but seldom do they strike. Like any venomous snake they must be treated with respect and are best not handled. Both for your protection and the snakes. Timbers have a weak neck and vertebrae and are easily injured in attempts to catch them.