A resourceful rattler has captured the attention of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
In August, a timber rattlesnake was seen in Tenoroc Public Use Area in northern Polk County, according to an FWC Research Institute post on Facebook.
After the snake made its social media debut, another photographer shared a pic of apparently the same snake that had been seen two days earlier, almost a mile away in Tenoroc.
According to FWC snake experts at the Florida Museum, the “large and impressive” timber rattlesnakes have a limited range in the state and have been found in only 12 counties in northern Florida. “The range may extend to other nearby areas, but there are no confirmed records from other Florida counties.”
Where this snake is found in Florida
In Florida, the distinctively colored snake — brown with black bands — typically ranges through southern Alachua County and maybe northern Marion County. Tenoroc is 101 miles south of the nearest recorded sighting in Alachua County. So, according to the FWC, this one would have had to slither through many miles of unsuitable scrub in Ocala National Forest to land itself on Facebook.
“Conceivably, a relict population of timber rattlesnakes could persist in Green Swamp in southern Lake and northern Polk counties,” FWC said in its post. “Thousands of years ago, they could have followed the St. Johns River and other drainages from the Jacksonville area to Green Swamp, which was apparently done by another northern species, the spotted turtle. However, it may represent an illegally released or escaped snake.”
Timber rattlers in Florida breed and give birth from August through October, according to the FWC. When this timber was seen in August coincides with the time of the season when males make long-distance movements in search of females. “The length of the tail suggests that this is a male,” FWC said.
What you should do if you see a timber rattlesnake
So, should you freak if you find yourself in the brush with this beauty?
Well, timber rattlesnakes are venomous so its bites can be “very dangerous” to people and pets. But the timbers are not aggressive and avoid direct contact with people and pets, according to Florida Museum. Most of the time the timbers bite when they are bothered by us bigger creatures or are accidentally stepped on.
“This is a snake that should be simply left alone and not bothered,” the museum posted on its website.
If bitten, seek treatment from a medical expert with experience in dealing with snake bites.
FWC biologists are interested in sightings of timber rattlesnakes outside of their range and welcome the submission of “safely” snapped photos with location details. You can send images and info via FWC’s Living With Snakes page at https://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/wildlife/snakes/.