Today's Washington Post reported that the state of Massachusetts plans to establish a sanctuary for timber rattlesnakes on an off-limits 1,400 acre island in the Quabbin Resevoir, 65 miles west of Boston. The reservoir is the largest body of water in Massachusetts.

There are only 200 timber rattlesnakes left in Massachusetts "in five scattered pockets from Greater Boston to the Berkshires". The fear is that they could disappear from the state because of loss of habitat and being killed by humans.

How well do these snakes swim?

  • This story made it as far as the UK, FYI. apparently according to the guy on the radio who was talking about it, they can swim and there is a concern that they will make it to show or that bald eagles will accidentally transport them to the mainland...this seems a bit far fetched to me though and more a case of NIMBYism
    – user2766
    Feb 23 '16 at 10:57
  • @Liam: Interesting. Though I agree that they can swim, I doubt if they can swim so well and the distance. They haven't been known to do that. Its like, all birds can fly, can fly very well, but not all of them migrate :)
    – WedaPashi
    Feb 29 '16 at 12:13

For what I have known, Crotalus horridus, The Timber Rattlesnake does not swim well. Its not a water snake, though its appearance may resemble other water snakes found in its habitat. An inexperienced person may easily confuse between them.
The only reason I think the authorities have preferred that particular area as a potential habitat for a sanctuary of Timber Rattlesnake is that they prefer exactly that sort of a habitat: moist, lowland forests or hilly woodlands or thickets near permanent water sources such as rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and swamps.

This particular website has good piece of information if you care about them and want to know more.

  • 2
    As an Ophidiophile, you may be interested in the following: after a lively debate, the Virginia Senate declared the garter snake as the official Virginia state snake. Its rival was the timber rattler. Garter snake opponents said the gs was timid and smelly (the smell is a defense mechanism when threatened), but the timber rattler was brave and beautiful. The clinching argument was that the tr was the official snake of West Virginia, and did Virginia want to copy West Va? I don't like snakes (not hate, not fear, just don't like), and I don't know why so many of my posts are about them.
    – ab2
    Feb 27 '16 at 2:06
  • 2
    @ab2: I do understand about you like many other people not liking the snake as an animal, nor hate or fear. But you are asking questions, good questions is a good sign that you'll be aware and you'll be safer!
    – WedaPashi
    May 7 '16 at 5:05
  • @ab2: Looking at this from a non-US perspective I love these kinds of stories... You got state trees, state birds, state snakes, state anything :D
    – fgysin
    Oct 24 '17 at 6:27
  • @fgysin: Indeed. In India too, we have state birds, state animals, state trees, etc. I think this majorly is justifiable for states with larger geographical area. For example, I am from India and the state where is live is Maharashtra. We have a huge coastal region in west sides, and a lovely biodiversity hotspot forest in South direction from central-western region.
    – WedaPashi
    Oct 24 '17 at 6:42
  • ... So, we have different sets of birds, trees and animals than what other states for example, Himachal Pradesh which is situated at higher altitude and where Himalayan ranges are. Different weather and hence understandably different state bird, different state tree, different state animal.
    – WedaPashi
    Oct 24 '17 at 6:42

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