Interesting Facts

        Though large rattlesnakes are among the most dangerous snakes, the timber rattlesnake can be an exception to this.  They prefer to stay out of sight and remain relatively quiet, and even when they do emerge, they rarely demonstrate combative or aggressive behavior.  Unless provoked, they tend to slither away unseen, but will not hesitate to fight back if they feel threatened enough.  In fact, death by humans from rattlesnake bites is far less common than death by rattlesnakes from humans encroaching on their territory.  Most bites result from people actively trying to handle the rattlesnake rather than just encountering one out in the wild at random.  Timber rattlesnakes have many predators, including humans.  Humans will hunt and kill rattlesnakes simply out of ignorance, for sport, or for personal benefits, like for food and their skins.  They also cause harm indirectly by encroaching on and destroying the rattlesnake’s environment.  Basically, human activity has led to a major decline in the number of timber rattlesnakes present in their geographical range. For these reasons, it is important for all humans to acknowledge, respect and avoid these incredible organisms at all costs in order to ensure their survival.    It would be a tremendous shame to watch their existence slowly disappear.          
            If you do come across a timber rattlesnake in the wild, try to stay at least three feet away and do not approach it any closer.  Also, if an accident occurs and you do get close enough for a rattlesnake to strike, do not try to treat the bite yourself.  This includes applying ice, cold packs, sprays, or alcohols to the site of the bite because they usually just make it worse.  Instead call poison control and seek immediate medical attention at a local hospital or clinic.  The most important thing you can do is to stay calm!          
          Below is a graph that shows the decrease in the number of reported observations of C. horridus over the course of 8 years:

             Today, it is extremely important to protect remaining populations of timber rattlesnakes for many reasons, but there is one in particular that relates to humans.  Over the years, venom from pit vipers, like the timber rattlesnake, have proven to be quite useful to humans for scientific research and development.  In fact, scientists have discovered many benefits of using viper venom for medicinal purposes.  Basically, snake venoms of all types are known to affect the process of blood coagulation.  Some venom, such as viper venom, inhibits the blood clotting process while cobra venom does not.  Instead, cobra venom induces intravascular clotting so that the blood becomes thicker and coagulates.  This type of venom has been used to treat severe bleeding associated with hemophilia.  Viper venom, like that from C. horridus, does the complete opposite.  Therefore, rattlesnake bites cause profuse bleeding and the blood to become thinner. For this reason, rattlesnake venom has been used to treat patients with high blood pressure and heart disease.  Rattlesnake venom contains many enzymes, proteins and toxins that act on the body in many different ways and provides a multitude of medically significant chemicals.  Other common effects of viper venom include blockage of nerve impulses, shocking the heart, and the degeneration of flesh and muscle.  By preventing nerve impulses from transmitting from one to another, the venom can reduce pain and possibly treat nerve disease such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.  Viper venom has also been tested to treat infectious diseases such as tetanus, hepatitis, and malaria as well as vision disorders like cataracts.  As you can see, timber rattlesnakes are extremely useful to an assortment of organisms.
Due to diminishing populations, timber rattlesnakes are relatively rare in the eastern areas they inhabit, but they do share the region with some of their fellow cousins:  prairie rattlesnakes, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes and pygmy rattlesnakes.

Pygmy rattlesnake                                                                      Diamondback rattlesnake

To find out more about keeping timber rattlesnakes AND yourself safe, visit this website from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service


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