Twenty-two species of snakes can be found in New Jersey. Two are venomous, the northern copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. The remainder of 20 is non-venomous.
Copperheads are rare in New Jersey, whereas the timber rattlesnake is mostly found in the northwest area of the state or the pine barrens.
Copperheads eat small mammals like frogs as well as insects, birds, and other snakes. Timber rattlesnakes eat rodents such as chipmunks, mice, shrews, and squirrels. They also eat amphibians, birds, and lizards.
The copperhead adult size ranges between 24 and 36 inches. Young copperheads are typically 7-10 inches in length. The females will grow to greater lengths than males, but the males have longer tails. The timberland rattlesnake adult size ranges from 30-60 inches in length, with the largest recorded being more than 6 feet long. They weigh on average between 1.1 and 3.3 lbs; however, they can weigh as much as 10 lbs.
Copperheads prefer to live in the wetlands during the summer and on rocky forested hillsides during other seasons.
Timber rattlesnakes are mostly found in remote areas of oak woodlands and bluff prairies. During the summer, they prefer open valleys and deciduous forests, while in the spring and summer, they inhabit open grassy areas and rocky outcrops. Due to their secretive nature, they find areas away from humans.
The copperhead is pinkish to greyish brown with reddish-brown to narrow brown crossbands on the back that get wider on the sides. Small dark spots can be seen on the crossbands. The head is rusty-red, copper, or dull orange. The stomach is light brown to pink with dark blotches.
The timber rattlesnake has a more massive body. They are usually brown, yellow, rust-orange with dark crossbands. Rarely, their body color is grey. They can have a brown stripe behind the eyes with a rust color stripe from the neck down to the tail.
Copperheads can live up to 18 years.
Timber rattlesnake's lifespan is approximately 16 to 22 years when living in the wild.
Life, History, Reproduction & More
Copperheads will usually lay motionless or move away slowly when in contact with humans. They will bite if touched or stepped on. They are venomous; however, the bite is rarely fatal. They are rare and reclusive, so the encounters with humans are rare.
Because the timber rattlesnake is notably docile and prefers to go unnoticed, they are not a significant threat to livestock and humans. However, if provoked, they will go into a defensive mode and bite. If they do bite, the symptoms can range from local pain and swelling to nausea, vomiting muscular spasms, stomach cramping, and diarrhea.
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