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Hibernacula Fidelity of C. horridus in Mtns/Coastal Plain?

Posted: November 27th, 2016, 2:54 pm
by MCHerper
Hi Folks,

I've been having a recurring conversation with a friend and am hoping that someone here could shed light on it-does anyone have any resources, links or direct knowledge regarding hibernacula fidelity of timber rattlers in the coastal plain vs. the mountains? Specifically, I'm wondering if they will show less hibernacula fidelity in the coastal plain because of a different denning strategy in those locations vs. mountainous areas. Thanks for any help that you can offer.


Re: Hibernacula Fidelity of C. horridus in Mtns/Coastal Plai

Posted: December 1st, 2016, 10:37 am
by Bryan Hamilton
Hi MC,

There is literature out there to support the hypothesis that timber rattlesnakes in the coastal plain tend to hibernate in smaller groups and have lower site fidelity than in mountainous or higher elevation portions of their range. Just because fidelity is probably lower than some area doesn't mean fidelity is low..... Fidelity to hibernacula is probably still very high, once those snakes lock in a suitable hibernacula, they stick with it. Now they may occasionally switch or be able to survive translocations, but existing hibernacula are still critical habitat components.

PM me your email address if you want pdfs of these.
Martin, W. H., W. S. Brown, E. Possardt, and J. B. Sealy. 2008. Biological Variation, Management Units, and a Conservation Action Plan for the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). In: W. K. Hayes, K. R. Beaman, M. D. Cardwell and S. P. Bush (eds.). The Biology of Rattlesnakes: Loma Linda University Press. p. 447-462.

Hamilton, B. T., and E. M. Nowak. 2009. Relationships between Insolation and Rattlesnake Hibernacula. Western North American Naturalist 69:319-328.

Re: Hibernacula Fidelity of C. horridus in Mtns/Coastal Plai

Posted: December 1st, 2016, 11:54 am
by fisherp
I agree with what Bryan said. Timber rattlesnakes in the coastal plain seem to be more opportunistic in selecting hibernacula as opposed to populations in the mountains that exhibit strong fidelity to communal dens. There still seems to be a degree of fidelity in coastal plains populations but a lot of it depends on how many suitable sites are available in their habitat.

In the NJ Pine Barrens, timber rattlesnakes return to the same hibernacula often and if they don't then they almost always at least return to the same stream corridor. Reinert and Zappalorti did observe a Pine Barrens timber rattlesnake shift stream corridors to hibernate for the first time back in 1995. A forest fire had burned the area where this particular snake usually hibernated so it may have been forced to shift. Here is a link to the abstract - ... einert.htm

Re: Hibernacula Fidelity of C. horridus in Mtns/Coastal Plai

Posted: December 5th, 2016, 10:44 am
by MCHerper
Thank you Bryan and Fisherp! Bryan, I will be in touch via PM.