Timber rattlesnake spotted near Outer Banks lighthouse prompts warning

Posted at 12:17 PM, May 14, 2018

OUTER BANKS, N.C. –Wild ponies, sharks, jellyfish, alligators and now rattlesnakes?! National Park Service officials in the Outer Banks posted a photo of a timber rattlesnake spotted near Bodie Island Light Station and offered warning tips to help people avoid interaction with the venomous snake.

Staff at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore spotted the canebrake timber rattlesnake outside a park staff building near the entrance to the Bodie Island Light Station.

Park officials said that rattlesnakes are not typically aggressive and only strike when threatened or deliberately provoked, but given room they will retreat.

Most snake encounters occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors.

While rattlesnakes might seem uncommon near the ocean, the canebrake rattlesnakes are widespread throughout the Coastal Plain region of the Southeast, according to herpetologists.

Its range extends to Virginia but is limited to the lower York-James peninsula (i.e. York County, cities of Newport News and Hampton), Isle of Wight County, and the cities of Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. In Virginia the snake is listed as endangered.

Herpetologists said the snake is reluctant to engage its rattle until danger is imminent.

Last August, a couple vacationing in Hilton Head snapped a photo of a diamondback rattlesnake, one of America’s largest venomous snakes according to herpetologists. Jonathan and Lindsay Wiles were taking a walk along Port Royal Plantation Beach when they saw the massive serpent slithering along the beach.

A herpetologist told the news that the diamondback rattlesnake thrive on the Lowcountry’s coastal islands, but it was  still “a little unusual” to see one on a beach.

National Park Service officials posted tips to help avoid interactions with snakes:

  • When hiking, stick to well used trails
  • Avoid tall grass, weeds, and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day
  • Look at your feet to watch where you step and do not put your foot in or near a crevice where you cannot see
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark
  • If a fallen tree or large rock is in your path, step up to it instead of over it, as there might be a snake on the other side
  • Avoid approaching any snake you cannot positively identify as a safe species
  • If you hear a warning rattle, move away from the area and do not make any sudden or threatening movements in the direction of the snake


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