There Must Be Magic

By GirlWithACamera

Timber Rattler in the Quehanna Wild Area!

We had some glorious, cool, clear weather on Monday and Tuesday, and my husband and I went backpacking in the Quehanna Wild Area. On our way in to our campsite, we encountered a bit of unexpected excitement.

My husband nearly stepped on a timber rattlesnake, and then did the snake dance, of course. Seeing him leaping backward with a full frame pack on was indeed a sight to behold. But believe me, when you hear that sound, you do the dance!

From about six to eight feet away, I stood my ground, listened to the amazing rattle, and got off nearly 20 photos of the snake. At that point, my husband insisted I back away, and so I did. (Needless to say, we took a DIFFERENT route on our hike back to the car the next day.)

Here are some facts about timber rattlers.

The timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is one of three venomous snake species native to Pennsylvania. The others are the northern copperhead and the eastern massasauga rattlesnake.

Life span is typically 11 to 14 yrs, with maximum age up to 50 (which is rare).

Eats approximately every 2 weeks.

Adult timber rattlers are about 3 to 4.5 feet long. This one appeared to be around 4 feet, but it's hard to tell when they're coiled up like this.

Adult males emerge from the den in April. They may travel up to 2 miles from their den through spring/summer before returning in fall. They are active through about October.

Timber rattlers are diurnal in spring and fall, but nocturnal during oppressive summer heat.

Timber rattlers are under a protected status. It is illegal to kill one in Pennsylvania, unless you are defending life and limb, or unless you possess a permit to take one during the annual season in June and July.

Rattlesnakes grow a new rattle each time they shed their skin, which occurs 2 to 3 times a year. This means that there is no real way to determine the age of a timber rattler by counting the number of rattles.

And yes, its bite has enough venom to kill a person; however, if you get anti-venom within 2 hours, you have about a 90-some percent chance of living through it.


An actual marital conversation, post-snake-sighting . . .
Husband: Knowing there are things out here than can kill you is a sobering thought.
Me, *brightly*: Oh, it all adds to the adventure!
Husband: *sour look*
Me: Where's your sense of adventure?

The soundtrack: John Mellencamp, with Danger List.

P.S. There's a closer look at the front part of the snake in the extras. The textures are really amazing. Rock on, rattle-pup!!!

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