Timber Rattle Snake
Crotalus horridus

Family: Crotalidae - Pitviper Snakes (dangerously venomous)

Typical Adult Size: 36 to 60 inches

Reproduction: live bearing

Eye Pupil: elliptical

Dorsal Scales: keeled

Anal Scale: single

SC Range Map

Additional Images

The Timber Rattle Snake is the most common rattle snake in South Carolina. The Timber is also the most wide-ranged rattlesnake species in the eastern United States. Before the days of cotton agriculture, Timber Rattle Snakes probably were common throughout South Carolina. The over cultivation and severe erosion which occurred in the Piedmont region of SC during the 19th and early 20th Centuries, severely damaged the ecology and undoubtedly decimated many populations of herptiles. Today, Timber Rattle Snakes are nearly absent from most of the Piedmont. Timber populations now occur in the Mountains and immediately adjacent portions of the Piedmont. The major area of Timber Rattle Snake populations are the Sandhills and Coastal Plain.

The Timber Rattle Snakes in the Mountains resemble their kind found from the mountains and northward through the eastern USA. These Timbers often have dark background colors and broad, darker cross bands. The Timbers found in the Sandhills and Coastal Plain of SC and the other southern coastal states tend to have a more lightly colored background (sometimes pinkish), narrow cross bands, and a very noticeable brown line down the spine. At one time the southern variation of the Timber was assigned subspecies status. Today, it is more accepted to consider the southern variation as just a color phase. Because the southern Timbers were often found around creeks which were usually bordered by stands of river cane (known as brakes), the southern Timber is often called the Canebrake Rattle Snake.

Timber Rattle Snakes eat small rodents. The Gray Squirrel is a favorite food. Timbers are ambush hunters. They are known to occasionally climb trees.

Timber Rattle Snakes are usually even-tempered in nature and are often slow to rattle. They are very dangerously venomous.

Additional Images:

Timber Phase Canebrake Phase
adult, approx. 33 inches adult, approx. 30 inches, Berkeley
adult, approx. 33 inches adult, approx. 33 inches, Aiken
adult, black variation, approx. 42 inches head
adults, yellow and black variations tail
rattle warning sound adult, belly
  adult, amelanistic
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July 07, 2009
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians