Criicky! What a beauuutiful snake! OK, no biting now.
I found this gorgeous specimen of a canebrake timber rattlesnake last July behind Shirley's house in West Nashville (near Old Hickory and Charlotte Pike).
I was inspired to post this today since yesterday, Kelly was asking about coyotes in Davidson Co., I thought I just mention there are rattlesnakes as well.
We were clearing some brush when I found this majestic creature. It was quite unexpected, I had never seen a rattlesnake in Nashville before. The snake was so fat in it's lower half I thought this might be a gravid (pregnant) female. All the more reason to capture it and relocate it since Shirley has 2 small dogs, including a rat terrier that likes to stick her nose everywhere.
This snake was very well-behaved. She never struck at me or showed any sign of aggression. She only began to rattle when I pinned her head down in order to safely pick her up. I put her in a feed bucket with a secure lid and released her several miles down River Rd. near the Cheatham County line.
Notice the closeup photo of the 10 segment rattle. This snake had been around a while.
I must say to everyone reading this, if you see one of these awesome creatures, don't even think about killing it. That is truly the cowardly thing to do! Just leave it alone and feel lucky you got to see one of these elusive creatures.
If you want a snake removed from your property and don't have the balls to do it yourself, call county animal control or the TWRA. Even the biology department at the local college could refer you to a qualified herpetologist. Don't call the police, they will likely be 'heroic' and shoot it.
Rattlesnake capture 101: the snake must be fully extended before you pick it up. If it is coiled and rattling, don't even think about it. Just let it relax for a while and if it remains coiled, gently prod it with a stick to get it to move. Once it is elongated, it can not strike and then you can pin it, grab it behind the head and pick it up. Heavy gloves are recommended. I certainly wouldn't recommend wearing cutoff jeans and sneakers like I happen to have on in the photo, but like I said, this encounter was unexpected.
I see the existence of such creatures here, just a few miles from downtown Nashville, as a sign of a healthy ecosystem. We should feel lucky that we humans haven't driven this species to extinction in our area.
"Canebrake" was once thought to be a subspecies of the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) but now it is seen as just a lighter colored variant. Here is some interesting new research on the venom of these snakes.