It was a bright afternoon in May. I was hiking up a steep trail near the crest of Buck Hill in Milton, noticing about how warm the rock ledge at my feet felt, having absorbed the heat of the sun all day, and musing on how nice it would be to lie down upon it.
And then I remembered that snakes like to stretch themselves out over warm rocks too. And that I had read something recently about rattlesnakes in the Blue Hills. And that maybe I should watch fake chanel bags my step.
Given the fact that there were probably a hundred other hikers on the trail to Buck Hill that day, there wasn't any cause for concern. Snakes don't gravitate toward well-trafficked areas. But it got me thinking that I should educate myself more thoroughly on the matter. To put it mildly, I'm not fond of snakes. It would be better to know what to expect than to ruin a hike by imagining them lurking around every corner.
We typically associate rattlesnakes with the desert, and do not expect to encounter them close to home. However about 200 timber rattlesnakes currently reside in Massachusetts. Most often they inhabit wooded mountainous areas with steep rocky ledges and ample populations of rodents; although they are sometimes found in fields and wetlands too. Populations in our state are concentrated in the Berkshires, the Connecticut River Valley and the Blue Hills. Nationwide chanel replica handbags, they make their home throughout much of the eastern US, as far west as central Texas in the south, and to Wisconsin in the north. While they are abundant in the southern Appalachians, here in the northeast, populations are quite small.
The timber rattlesnake hibernates for the colder half of the year, but becomes active in Massachusetts around the middle of April. After emerging from the underground crevices in which is spends the winter, it makes its way onto rock ledges where it can bask in the sun to keep warm. (Like many snakes, the timber rattler is ectothermic, meaning it cannot regulate its own body temperature.) In the spring, activity is minimal, although some mating does occur. After mating, the snakes move away from the den - males to dense forest, where the hunting is good; females to fields and less-dense forest, where temperatures are warmer. Baby snakes are born alive after about 4-5 months. They all return to the den in September or October, depending on the weather. The average life span for a timber rattlesnake is 10-15 years.
The standard description of a timber rattlesnake includes chanel outlet uk the phrase "pit viper," which sends chills up my spine. If you're imagining a teeming pit of angry, venomous snakes (as I first did), please take my hand and we'll back away from that erroneous image together. A timber rattlesnake is large - three to five feet in adulthood, 8-16 inches a birth, with a broad triangular head and rough-looking scales. It can range in color from black or brown to rust or dark yellow. The underside is light in color, sometimes with dark flecks. It has bands across its back and sides, but none on its head or face. Its tail is solid black, with a rattling structure at its end that grows with each successive shedding of skin, but is sometimes lost in that same process. The term "pit viper" refers to the pits on either side of its head - super-sensitive nerve endings that can detect radiant heat.