Squamata

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)


Subfamily Crotalinae

Timber Rattlesnake

Common Name:

Timber Rattlesnake


Scientific Name:

Crotalus horridus

Photo of Timber Rattlesnake courtesy of Scott A. Smith
 
Photo of Timber Rattlesnake courtesy of Scott A. Smith


Size:
36 inches – 60 inches Record: 74 ½ inches.

Appearance:
  • The only snake in Maryland with a rattle.
  • A triangular and flattened head with facial “pits” between each eye and nostril.
  • Vertically slit iris.
  • There are two color phases:
    1. the yellow phase, with dark brown to black V-shaped chevrons over a yellow, gray or brown back; chevrons may break up into large spots.
    2. the black phase, with a black head and black chevrons or blotches on a field of dark brown or black.
  • Scale are keeled.
  • Unlike our other venomous snake, the Copperhead, the young of the Timber Rattler do not have yellow-tipped tails.

Close-up Photo of Timber Rattlesnake Rattle - courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Close-up Photo of Timber Rattlesnake Rattle
courtesy of Scott A. Smith


Habitats:

Prefer upland forested areas with rocky outcrops and talus slopes.


How to Find:

This is a shy species; they avoid areas frequented by humans. Diurnal during the spring and fall, nocturnal during summer to avoid the heat. Most active in the spring following hibernation. Warning – this is a venomous snake. Do not attempt to capture or handle. They will readily bite if provoked, and bites are extremely painful. Seek medical attention immediately if bitten.

Photo of Habitat for Timber Rattlesnake courtesy of R. Harrison Wiegand
Photo of Habitat for Timber Rattlesnake courtesy of R. Harrison Wiegand


Distribution in Maryland:

Exclusively a western Maryland species, from Frederick to Garrett County, although historical records place these snakes east to the Susquehanna River.​

 

Timber Rattlesnake - Distribution in Maryland