Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Snakes On the Move

Timber rattlesnake Photo by Kris Schantz
Snakes in New Jersey are at the end of their mating seasons and on the move within their territories. That means you are more likely to see one.

Snakes are quite misunderstood, largely because the majority of people are not able to identify species and don't know which ones are dangerous and which are harmless to humans and beneficial to the ecosystem.

As I have written before, New Jersey only has two venomous snakes: the Eastern timber rattlesnake and the Northern copperhead.

Firefighters in Knowlton (northwest NJ) posted on Facebook about one timber rattlesnake that was probably moving down from the mountains near the Delaware Water Gap to lower areas and was found in a backyard garden compost pile. (It has been relocated.)

Timber rattlesnakes are found in New Jersey typically around the Kittatinny Ridge north of the Water Gap, the northern Highlands area and in the Pine Barrens and typically found in densely wooded and rocky forests.

Timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) are an endangered species in New Jersey and it is illegal to kill them. If you encounter one on your property, you can call the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife. In New Jersey, call the Department of Environmental Protection at 877-WARN DEP (877-927-6337). They have a specialized team of experts and trained volunteers who will relocate the snake.

Timber rattlesnake rely on its camouflage to stay out of sight, and generally will not attack. But, as with many animals, if provoked - and that may be unintentional, such as stepping unaware on or near one - they can strike. Stay 10 feet away from the snake.

In comparison, a Northern copperhead Photo by Mike Muller  
Pennsylvania has a third poisonous snake, the endangered Eastern massasauga, which only lives in the northwestern part of the state. The timber rattlesnake is not protected in Pennsylvania.

More information about snakes in NJ
printable brochure 

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