Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) are widespread and common in the eastern United States, but I’ve rarely seen one (maybe twice before in 50 years). Seeing one is a real treat, especially when it as beautiful and large as this one from Currahee Mountain.
When I came upon it, it was lying still in the road. I thought it might have been warming itself, although the road was shady. It didn’t budge or rattle as I got close (never more than a body length, though). This was remarkable because I walked all around it, and approached it several times from different angles. It never turned, faced me, or acknowledged me in any way. The markings on it were bright and colorful. Since it was lying so still, I moved around to the front to get a head-on view. I appreciated the 2x lens on my camera!
The tail had 11 rattle segments, suggesting it is rather old, as does its 4½' length and darkened tail. The body was impressively thick, easily as big around as my forearm. I don’t recall if the tail was up when I first approached, and I wonder if that was meant to be a subtle warning or if they always carry their rattle off the ground.
I had started to walk down the road when I got concerned that somebody might run over it. When I walked back up, it was inching its way across the road, eventually disappearing into the vegetation. I was struck by how straight it helds its body, with its movement being by fine waves of muscles down its sides, giving the body a slight wiggle. It was also holding its rattle up, maybe to prevent damage to it. If so, it’s good to know that I never caused it to be agitated.