Friday, September 5, 2014

Do We Have Rattlesnakes?

Do we have rattlesnakes along the trails?  We don't know. Here's what we do know:
  • A total of three four rattlesnake sightings have been reported at Shelton Lakes over the past six years. Three sites were along the powerlines between Shelton Ave and Buddington Road, a fourth was several years ago near where the Intermediate School now stands. These reports have been forwarded to the CT DEEP.
  • Some snakes, including Black Rat Snakes and Hognose Snakes, mimic rattlesnakes as a defense mechanism (the above video is a harmless Black Rat Snake, while the one below is a Hognose Snake).  They may rattle their tails in dry leaves to make a rattle sound, or mimic the sound of a rattle with a particular type of hiss. Hognose snakes can also make their head appear freakishly like a cobra. Black Rat Snakes are very common at Shelton Lakes (they can be 5 or 6 feet long). Not sure if we have any Hognose Snakes or not.

  • The known range of the Timber Rattlesnake in Connecticut currently does not include Shelton. On the other hand, the Shelton Lakes/Nells Rock region has always been remote, with lots of rocky places for snakes to hide. The area had relatively little farming and was used instead for charcoal production.  So you never know.
Known Timber Rattlesnake Range (CT DEEP)

  • What if there really are Timber Rattlesnakes in Shelton?  No need to worry. Just think twice about sticking your hand in a rock crevice (I'm talking to you, Geocachers and Letterboxers).  These snakes are endangered in CT and should be treated with respect.  If you do see a snake you think might be a rattlesnake, please try to get a photo of it without endangering yourself, especially a high-quality photo of the tail, and forward that info my office at Also take some photos of the snake at a distance or that include some recognizable distinct feature that can be verified (to prove that the photo was taken at that location and not in some other state). 
[UPDATE 9/9/2014:  I spoke with someone from the DEEP and was told that although rattlesnakes are theoretically possible they are "highly unlikely" in Shelton. A low-resolution of one of the most recently reported  'rattlesnakes' was forwarded to a herpetologist and although the photo was not clear, he though it looked more like a Black Rat Snake. Also, there are no historical records of rattlesnakes in Shelton. A verifiable, high resolution photo is needed.] 

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