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TN & WV Rattlesnake Relief Efforts

leah kirk

NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is assisting wildlife biologists at Tennessee State University in research to determine the distribution of pygmy rattlesnakes in Tennessee. The pygmy rattlesnake is listed as a threatened species in Tennessee and the research will help in conservation efforts to preserve the species in the state. Native to Tennessee, pygmy rattlesnakes are predators that are rarely encountered and play important ecological roles, including the control of rodent populations. These tiny snakes will rattle their tails when threatened, but bites are extremely rare and non-fatal if treatment is administered. The snakes are seldom seen by humans.

To aid their research, the TSU wildlife biologists are asking that anyone who happens to encounter a pygmy rattlesnake, to document the location with a photograph with the Smartphone GPS location turned on. Persons are reminded not to harass or attempt to capture the snakes, much less taking the traditional action of smashing their heads with a big rock to ensure that particular snake ever bites your child, grandmother, or dog.

Pygmy rattlesnake sightings and information may be reported to one of the following biologists: Shawn Snyder, Email: or (717) 683-4226; Dr. Bill Sutton, Email: or (615) 963-7787.

Elsewhere in the world of making the world safer for rattlesnakes, the West Virginia DNR is asking the public to become involved in a scientific research project aimed at determining WV’s current distribution of timber rattlesnakes. Although many people want to kill them, these dangerous vipers rattlesnakes are claimed to be a critical part of forest ecosystems, and reduce human risk of contracting Lyme disease and other diseases spread by mice and chipmunks, the snake’s main prey unless you step on one, or a child approaches one.

The project asks the public to report their rattlesnake observations to the DNR through an online form that can be found at Those who participate can provide the location of their rattlesnake observation through geographic coordinates obtained from a handheld GPS unit or by using a map provided on the website. The site also asks users to submit a photo of the snake (while it is still alive).

“The DNR is interested in all observations, whether the snake is alive or dead. Information gained from this project will allow the DNR to better manage timber rattlesnake populations and focus conservation and outreach efforts (this does not mean to outreach you hand in friendship to one of these deadly viper). .

                For some people, the good news is that timber rattlesnake are disappearing throughout much of its range in WV.  People need to remember that although rattlesnakes are venomous, they are not out to get people or their pets, and that if left alone or observed from a distance, they pose no threat. Of course, if you are trout fishing a remote stream and accidently step on a rattlesnake, then you have a really big problem.

For more information about how to invest your time in this government funded rattlesnake preservation effort, visit or visit for more information about rattlesnakes. Oh yeah, good luck.