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Rattlesnake Study

In 2004, Commission and New Jersey Division of fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) scientists completed a three-year study in which they monitored the movements of timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) in the vicinity of a partially constructed (Laidig and Golden 2004). A major focus of the study concerned the effectiveness of a 2.7-km fence and a culvert system intended to direct the movements of timber rattlesnakes away from the development and toward forested areas.

Five male and four female timber rattlesnakes were radiotracked for various time periods during the three-year study period.  Using a global positioning system, the location of each snake was recorded every other day until it reentered a wintering den, or hibernaculum, in the fall.                  

Radio-telemetry data indicated that these rattlesnakes used extensive areas of forested uplands and wetlands within a 1500-ha area in and around the development.  The two largest males had the largest activity ranges (the area bounded by the outermost telemetry locations of a snake).  Both snakes had total round-trip travel-distances of greater than 11 km during two separate years.  A pregnant female had the smallest activity range, traveling the shortest distance from its hibernaculum.

Results of the study indicated that several timber rattlesnakes heavily utilized areas that may be developed in the future.  The fences did not prevent any of the transmitter-equipped timber rattlesnakes from entering constructed portions of the development.  The culverts, however, were used by two timber rattlesnakes to move beneath a street to forested lands east of the development.

Residential development and Radio-telemetry data