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Timber Rattlesnakes

These secretive reptiles are frequently misunderstood and feared, even though they are important links in the food chain. Timber rattlesnakes help to keep the small mammal population -- and their pests, such as ticks -- under control.

Timber rattlesnakes may use trails, roads, or open rocky areas for basking.

View DCNR’s Timber Rattlesnake in Pennsylvania’s State Forests Brochure (PDF) for additional information.

The Timber Rattlesnake Conservation Strategy for Pennsylvania State Forest Lands (PDF) explains how DCNR is working with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to benefit this reptile on state forest lands.

Important Information About Timber Rattlesnakes

  • An Individual Timber Rattlesnake Hunter and Rattlesnake Possession Permit is required for hunting or possessing timber rattlesnakes.

  • In the South Mountain special protection area, it is illegal to hunt, take, or kill timber rattlesnakes (even with a valid timber rattlesnake collection permit) west of Route 15 and south of interstate 81 to the Maryland line, including Michaux State Forest. Please view the Timber Rattlesnakes on the South Mountain Brochure (PDF) for more information.

  • Damage to basking or denning habitat is illegal.

  • Timber rattlesnakes may not be collected (even with a valid timber rattlesnake collection permit) in the 28 natural areas on state forest land listed below:

  • Pennsylvania State Forest Natural Areas Where Timber Rattlesnakes May Not Be Collected
    State ForestNatural Area
    Bald Eagle​Mt. Logan
    Rosencrans Bog
    Tall Timbers
    The Hook
    Buchanan​Sweet Root
    Pennel Run
    Elk​Lower Jerry Run
    Wykoff Run
    Forbes​Roaring Run
    Gallitzin​Charles F. Lewis
    Loyalsock​Kettle Creek Gorge
    Michaux​Carbaugh Run
    Moshannon​Marion Brooks
    Rothrock​Bear Meadows
    Big Flat Laurel
    Detweiler Run
    Little Juniata
    Sproul​Cranberry Swamp
    East Branch Swamp
    Tamarack Swamp
    Susquehannock​Forrest H. Dutlinger
    Tiadaghton​Algerine Swamp
    Berk Cabin
    Miller Run
    Tioga​Black Ash Swamp
    Reynolds Spring
    Tuscarora​Frank E. Masland

Timber Rattlesnake Safety Tips

  • Be aware. Look around before sitting or reaching into piles of rock, logs, or boards, or under a shed or equipment.

  • Never pick up a rattlesnake, even one that appears to be dead.

  • Nuisance snakes near public places should be removed. Call the local conservation officer of the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission for removal.

Avoiding and Treating Snakebites

  • Maintain a 3-foot buffer around a snake to avoid a strike.

  • Cloudy-eyed snakes are shedding and cannot see well. They may be more likely to defend themselves.

  • Remain calm and reassure the snakebite victim.

  • If possible, immobilize the affected area and transport the snakebite victim immediately to the nearest medical facility.

  • Do not attempt first aid measures such as incision, suction, tourniquets, alcohol, or drugs on the snakebite victim.