VENOMOUS

Other common names

Canebrake, Canebrake Rattlesnake, Rattlesnake, Rattler

Basic description

Most adult timber rattlesnakes are about 36-60 inches (76-152 cm) in total length. This is a large, heavy-bodied snake with a series of large, black, chevron-like crossbands down the pinkish gray or tan body. There is a reddish-brown stripe running down the center of the back. The tail is usually uniformly black. The tail ends in a rattle, which is often held above the ground. The large and thick head is distinct from the neck and sometimes has a dark diagonal line through the eye or just behind the eye. The coloration of juveniles is the same as described for adults, and the tip of the tail of newborns ends in a “button”, which is the first segment of the future rattle.

rattlesnake with light coloring and dark stripes
Timber rattlesnake. Photo courtesy of Jason C. Seitz.

Range

Timber rattlesnakes have a limited range in Florida and are 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.

Assessment of risk to people and pets

VENOMOUS The timber rattlesnake is a large and impressive snake, and bites can be very dangerous to people and pets. The victim should seek immediate medical care from a physician or hospital experienced in treating snakebites. Timber rattlesnakes are not aggressive and avoid direct contact with people and pets. Most bites occur when the snakes are intentionally molested or accidentally stepped on. This is a snake that should be simply left alone and not bothered.

Comparison with other species

Eastern diamondback rattlesnake
Photo courtesy of Luke Smith.

Eastern diamond-backed rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) The eastern diamond-backed rattlesnake has a row of large dark diamonds with brown centers and cream borders down its back. The large and thick head is distinct from the neck and has a light bordered dark stripe running diagonally through each eye. This is the only other rattlesnake with which a timber rattlesnake might be confused in Florida.


Share your observations

You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.

Additional helpful information

Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.

Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.

Banner photo courtesy of Jason C. Seitz. Please credit any photographers on the page and see our copyright policy.