HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A rattlesnake was caught on camera on a wooded hiking trail in Holyoke.
The type of snake was confirmed by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife State Herpetologist, Mike Jones. Mike told 22News the photos are of an adult timber rattlesnake. According to MassWildlife, the timber rattlesnake is endangered in Massachusetts. They said it is illegal to harass, chase, disturb, capture, harm, or kill a timber rattlesnake in Massachusetts.
Timber rattlesnakes are usually 35 to 60 inches in length. They have broad, triangularly shaped heads, with a distinct narrowing just behind the head. They also have the signature rattlesnake tail. Although they are venomous, timber rattlesnakes have a tendency to avoid people if left alone.
There are signs posted in hiking areas where rattlesnakes are known by the MassWildlife and MassDCR. The precise location of the rattlesnakes is not publicized in order to protect them from being disturbed by people.
They emerge from their dens in April and bask frequently near the den entrance until mid-May when they venture further away for food. Then they return to their underground dens in the autumn and spend approximately six months inactive.
If you come across one there is some important advice to keep in mind. When they become disturbed timber rattlesnakes may create a buzzing-like rattle sound. So when you’re hiking you should stay on the trails and keep your pets on a leash.
Timber Rattlesnake populations across Massachusetts had mostly disappeared by the late 19th century as a combined result of habitat loss, purposeful killing and illegal collection, and road mortality. According to MassWildlife, there are only five remaining timber rattlesnake populations in Massachusetts.