The range of timber rattlesnakes extends north-east along the Appalachian Mountains to the Adirondacks of New York. Further south, they occur on either side of the mountains to the swampy Atlantic coastal plain between the Carolinas and northern Florida. They are also found across the Mississippi flood plain to eastern Texas and northern Mexico.
In the north and east, timber rattlesnakes live in forested rocky hills. They are often seen coiled on a tree stump waiting for passing prey such as tree squirrels, chipmunks and other rodents. In the south, the snakes are more common in damp meadowlands and swampy areas.
In the northern part of their range, timber rattlesnakes are brown, grey and black, while those living further south are pink, tan and yellow. All timber rattlesnakes have black tails. Female timber rattlesnakes only breed every three to four years.
A timber rattlesnake on the lookout for food will remain motionless to avoid being detected by its prey, but it will also freeze when a threat approaches. The attack stance is only adopted at at the last minute, which itself is often enough to surprise the aggressor and deter it from attacking. If the danger persists, the snake raises its head and neck into an S-shape, before striking forward with exposed fangs.
Timber rattlesnakes often gather in large groups to hibernate, sometimes with rat snakes and copperheads. Breeding occurs in spring, when the snakes emerge from their dens. At this time, rival males may tussle with each other, intertwining the rear part of their bodies while they raise the front half and try to push their opponent to the ground. The successful male then mates with the female.
Distribution: Eastern United States.
Food: Squirrels, mice, chipmunks and small birds.
Size: 89 - 190 cm (35 - 75 in).
Maturity: 9 years.
Breeding: Up to a dozen young born in late summer and autumn.
Life span: 30 years.