An update on the rattlesnake adventure from last year. The post from Nov. 6, 2019 introduced you to our first captured timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) on the preserve, and if you read the post, you know it led us to a den site. We were excited to know this den site was on preserve property, AND a second rattlesnake was using the same den. Well this spring, thanks to the time lapse cameras supplied by John Howard, we know that the transmitted rattlesnake came out of the den on April 6th. But the camera showed the other rattlesnake, the one we have not officially met yet, came out on April 4th. We thought we missed our chance to catch that second snake and see if it was a male or female. But luckily, it decided to go back into the den that same week. Re-entering the den is not something we thought the snakes would do. But this new snake, and an Eastern black racer (Coluber constrictor) that overwintered in the den, came out and later returned. So we knew the snake was back in the hole in the ground. Meanwhile the transmitted snake (the one we'd been following), was just feet away, "leaf hiding" as our Ohio rattlesnakes do after first emergence.
John's brother Vince built a trap he thought would help catch the new snake, and we mounted the trap over the den entrance. It took two days, but the new rattlesnake, and the racer finally came back out, and into our trap on April 20th. We had the new snake!
|Trap is mounted above den entrance to capture whomever is living inside.|
Once the new snake was in our possession, snake biologist Doug Wynn came down to process the snake. The rattlesnake was held comfortably in a tube to protect everyone involved, and a pit tag was inserted under the scales in case this snake is recaptured. The pit tag allows us to scan the snake and give us an I.D.
|The rattlesnake is guided into a tube to handle safely.|
The snake was weighed, sexed and measured. To our delight, SHE is a female, with an approximated age old enough to have mated a few times already. To find a female old enough for mating is a rare occurrence in Ohio, so we took her right back to the den site to release her.
|Biologist Doug Wynn traces the snake under a clear press to measure the length of the snake.|
|Although the elliptical pupils and shape of head makes her appear "mean", this snake rattled only once during capture and has never attempted to strike.|
|Female timber rattlesnake released at den site. Yes, that small hole in the ground is the entrance!|
Get close and personal with our second timber rattlesnake in the video below.
To date, the radio-tagged male has moved about a half mile from the den site since its 2020 emergence. It has been hanging out on a hilltop, most likely waiting for a chipmunk to pass by. As summer presses on we plan to follow our radio-tagged rattlesnake on his long travels looking for a mate. At the end of July we will have mapped out his movements for an entire year. Hopefully it will then lead us to the same den hole he emerged from in April. And we hope the cameras catch the female returning alive and well.
Watch for an update this fall!
Posted by: Mark Zloba