canebrake rattlesnake

(Crotalus horridus, Coastal Plain population)


This is a large, venomous snake that grows to lengths of 36-60 in. (90-152 cm). The canebrake rattlesnake differs from the timber rattlesnake, also C. horridus, in that the canebrake is pinkish to light tan with dark-brown to black blotches and chevrons, and it has a marked stripe down the back and a stripe from the eye to the jaw. There are no yellow and black phases in the canebrake. Both rattlesnakes have a triangular head and a pit below each eye. The pupil of the eye is vertical and elliptical. The black tail is tipped with a rattle. Males grow larger than females. Mating occurs late July to August, one year previous to the female bearing the live young. This snake bears live young in litters of 7-13 during late August and early September. This species is diurnal in the spring and fall, and nocturnal in the summer. It is listed as state endangered.


This species inhabits hardwood and mixed hardwood-pine forests, cane fields, and the ridges and glades of swampy areas in localized areas of southeastern Virginia. It overwinters in the base of hollow trees or in stumps.


The canebrake preys mostly on small mammals, particularly squirrels and occasionally rabbits. It also will occasionally eat frogs and birds.