Distinguished by the rattle on the end of their tail, rattlesnakes may add a new segment each time they shed. The number of segments are often said to determine age. However, rattlesnakes may shed more than once a year and segments may come off with each shed resulting in an inaccurate age estimation. When frightened by potential predators, they will vibrate the tip of their tail to create the well-known “rattling” sound. As members of the pit viper family, rattlesnakes can be identified by the pits or heat-sensitive organs located between their nostrils and eyes. They use these sensitive organs to detect body heat of both prey and potential danger.
The WNC Nature Center is home to a number of native reptiles including two timber rattlesnakes. Next time you take a trip to the WNC Nature Center, stop by Appalachian Station to practice your venomous snake identification skills!