September 27 - October 3
Discover nature this week as timber rattlesnakes enter hibernation.
Missouri’s largest venomous snake, the Timber Rattlesnake, can be found statewide in the wild, but this is no reason to hide away indoors. Though the Timber Rattlesnake is dangerously venomous, there are few cases of rattlesnake bites in this state, because the snakes prefer to be left alone. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, there have been no recorded deaths caused by venomous snake bites in the state of Missouri and almost all snake bites in Missouri are cases in which was the snake was being handled or felt threatened.
Even so, it’s important for those who spend time in Missouri’s outdoors to learn to identify venomous snakes. Photos, descriptions and maps to help identify the size, color and distribution of these snakes can be found online at MDC.mo.gov.
A Timber Rattlesnake can be anywhere from 36 to 60 inches long, and will live on rocky, wooded hillsides. They’re generally grey or yellowish-tan, and have dark brown markings along the back that change from blotches on the neck to bands near the tail. Often, a dark line extends from the eye along the angle of the jaw, and there is a rust-colored stripe down the back.
Few Missourians realize the benefit these snakes provide by keeping rodent populations in check. Another fact you might not know is that all snakes native to Missouri are protected. The Wildlife Code of Missouri treats snakes, lizards and most turtles as nongame, meaning that unless a person is directly threatened by the animal, it is unlawful to kill them.
So instead of avoiding the outdoors for fear of snakes, arm yourself with information at MDC.mo.gov and learn to identify our state’s venomous snakes.