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The Zoo has two male timber rattlesnakes on exhibit.
One has an estimated birthdate of September 15, 2000. He arrived at the Zoo on July 11, 2002 from Fort Wayne Zoo.
The other male’s birthdate and location are not known. He was confiscated by US Fish and Wildlife Service at Philadelphia International Airport. He arrived at the Zoo on November 17, 1999.
The timber rattlesnake can be found basking or hiding in a hollow log along side the Northern Copperhead, another venomous snake native to Pennsylvania.
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This heavy bodied snake can be brown, orange, black, or yellow with black or dark brown cross bands along its back. The tail is usually black and tipped with a rattle. The rattle, which is probably the snake’s most distinguishable feature, is a series of modified scales on the end of the tail that are loosely connected. When the snake feels threatened it will shake the rattle creating a loud buzzing or rattling sound.
Timber rattlesnakes are ambush predators. They will use smell and heat sensing pits that are located between each eye and nostril to locate prey. Their main diet is rodents. Generally the snake will release the prey immediately after envenomation. The prey will escape but the rattlesnake will track the prey and consume it after it has succumbed to the venom.
A female gives birth to 5-14 offspring in late summer or early fall. A female timber rattlesnake gives birth only every 3-4 years.
Averages 3-6 ft. Males are generally larger than females.
Timber rattlesnakes are carnivorous. In the wild, they eat mainly mice and other small mammals. The will also eat small birds, frogs and other snakes when they can catch them. Timber rattlesnakes are ambush feeders, they rely on their excellent sense of smell to locate prey trails and then lie in wait for their prey. At the Zoo, the snakes are offered mice appropriate to the size of the snake. During the late spring to late fall the snake will eat weekly – in the winter the snakes become very inactive and feed less frequently.
Eastern and Midwest United States.
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