@vipermanfred holding a male timber rattlesnake after we PIT tagged it a couple weeks back. This guy musked me in the face, and let me tell you.. that stuff doesn't smell or taste pleasant.
Snakes excrete musk from a gland in the cloaca and will musk as a defense mechanism. Some snakes, such as the timber rattlesnake, can eject their musk in a stream that can travel some distance, just like this guy did.
Most (if not all) snakes have musk, but each species varies in how stinky it is to humans. Personally, the worst musk I've encountered has been from colubrids, notably the Eastern garter snake and the Northern water snake.
In September 2014, I flipped an overturned shower bottom from a burned down trailer in east Texas to reveal a mother canebrake rattlesnake with a litter of 18 babies!
On this morning I was entertaining Todd Battey, a herper and friend from San Diego. He had been eager to see both a canebrake and a western pygmy rattlesnake, but I cautioned him that both could be difficult in east Texas even when targeting the right areas as to not set expectations too high.
Much to both our surprise when this was the first find of the trip, flipped on a mild but muggy morning shortly after sunrise. We would go on to continue our fortune by flipping a calligaster, roadcruising a pygmy that night, and finding another canebrake the following evening!
This young crote was an unexpected but satisfying end to our day trip in NC to celebrate our anniversary. We decided to relive our first herp trip together - but this time we saw two rattlesnake species rather than one.
We were cruising through swampy habitat along our route home, and expecting mostly natricine snakes... until this guy appeared on the road, who we first guessed to be a banded water snake (laugh at us, it's fine). This was the calmest Canebrake I've encountered yet; never striking or rattling, and no attempt at darting off. He was curious but calm despite it being later in the evening. Coastal North Carolina is loaded with hidden gems.
Eastern North Carolina
Closeup of a canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) from a Virginia population that I used to radiotrack. The canebrake used to be a subspecies of the timber rattlesnake, but now they are considered one and the same. However, the range of the species splits into a Y shape in North Carolina, and continues as a split into Virginia, where the species is limited to what is referred to as the timber rattlesnake in the mountains and upper piedmont, and a very small population of canebrake rattlesnakes in extreme southeastern Virginia. The canebrake population in the state is small and geographically isolated from neighboring populations, and as such, is listed as endangered by state law. As such, a recovery plan has been instated for the species. Unfortunately, the primary goal of the recovery plan is to downlist this species to threatened status as delisting is not a likely option due to loss of habitat where historic populations could be established. This species is ecologically significant as a means of rodent population control, and has even been sited as significantly lowering tick populations through bycatch consumption where they occur.
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A few shots of the rattle on yesterday’s canebrake. You can tell she’s lost buttons in the past because the end of her rattle has a squared-off, tiered look and doesn’t end with a smooth rounded-off button. Regardless, she was still able to communicate her “that’s close enough fella” message to me loud and clear with her remaining buttons. A message we always respect around here. #velvettail#canebrake#timberrattlesnake#crotalushorridus#conservation#buttons
Found this beautiful canebrake rattle snake ( aka timber rattler) in a stack of pallets I was moving. It was coiled less than a foot away from my stomach before I saw it. True to form for most snakes, he only wanted to be left alone and slowly moved away from me. He (or she?) is now living in a local forest preserve!
Gravid female timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) from my rainy outing yesterday.
Rattlesnakes are ovoviviparous and females give birth to live young after carrying eggs inside their body. Gravid females are those that are "pregnant" with young. As the young inside the female develop, they become larger and the female will thus have a larger girth. This is evident in this female by her stretched out tail region, where you can see the white between her scales.
As you can see by her completely white eye, this female is getting ready to shed as well.
Splish splash! I really enjoyed designing this tub surround around this nice life my soaker tub. I sourced the tile @emsertile and the lighting @stockmarketplumbingdistributors. #hattiesburgdesign#canebrake