Crotalus Horridus—Missouri’s Largest Venomous Snake

Crotalus Horridus a.k.a. Timber Rattlesnake, Canebrake

Dangerously venomous, reaching 3-5 feet in length, and Missouri’s largest venomous snake. They are truly a sight to behold in the wild. Even more so when you’re deep in the Ozarks, alone. I startled this girl as I was walking through some brush in the St Francois Mountains just south of where we live. Though she mostly startled me!

I went to a spot where I’ve seen them before in hopes to photograph one. Even while watching every step I took and being extremely cautious I still got too close to one. It was simply due to her camouflage. She was not in this spot when that happened and blended in quite well with the rock around her. I guess she didn’t like me being just a couple feet away and I saw her coil up out of the corner of my eye while giving a very noticeable HISS and she began rattling. Immediately I backed away and she slithered under her rock.

I waited awhile (at a SAFE DISTANCE WITH A ZOOM LENS), probably an hour or more to see what her next move would be. She slowly started poking her head out and that’s when I noticed two babies with her. No wonder she was mad! But this one is ALMOST a bucket list shot of mine.

FYI I would not recommend attempting this. I did not agitate her other than the initial introduction with me not knowing I was too close and I gave her plenty of space after she warned me. Timber rattlers are DANGEROUSLY VENOMOUS. I was wearing protective gaiters designed for snake bites because I knew I was in their territory trekking around in the bush. I did everything I knew how to do correctly and safely. Most of all keeping my distance with a long lens.

Seeing a timber rattler in the wild is a real treat, if you can appreciate it no matter your thoughts on snakes. I used to hate snakes and still am very uneasy about them. But as a photographer I can’t help but try and find these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. I am looking forward to this pursuit of rattlesnake photography, cautiously and carefully. I hope you enjoy the photos from this particular encounter.

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