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Iowa Timber rattle snakes- Seem to be on the rise?

IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
Def way more sightings of Timber rattlers in Madison co. I can only assume the population is on the rise. Personally, they terrify me! ha.
 

sep0667

Land of the Whitetail
Terrify me too if I didn't know one was there and it catches you off guard. I would LOVE to see one here in Iowa though. I saw one once, but only vaguely remember it because I was probably only 12 or so at the time. It was crossing a gravel road somewhere between Winterset and Earlham. The past few years I have had almost a slight obsession with reading about timber rattlers in Iowa and looking at pictures.

There is a great website, www.herpjournal.com, that is Iowa only, snakes/stories. The guy that mad the sight seemed to stop updating it a couple years ago, but his passion is snakes and he specifically seeks out timber rattlers at various locations in the state. He takes great information in regards to climate/atmosphere and takes some great photographs. One spot he has even worked to improve there habitat. Timber rattlers are found in the state in a lot more counties than just along the Mississippi. They are in pockets in a lot of eastern Iowa and of course Madison county with all the limestone around Winterset. A guy at my work that lives closer to St. Charles than Winterset had a big o'l sucker crawling through his front yard a few years ago and took some pictures. His property is up on a higher ridge, behind his house is a rocky ledge/south facing bank. There is a house below it and I have seen that guy post on youtube etc of rattlers in his property. You can find several youtube video's of timber rattlers in Iowa as well. I did a one time hunt on a property that borders Pammel State park with a friend that knows the farmer. Farmer says timber rattlers are common on his farm. Tons of limestone on his farm. He has an old barn in a field and says they like to hangout in the barn around the old equipment. Not sure if its still there, there was probably 15 years ago.

I really really want to see one here in Iowa and get some pictures and just admire it. I would like to know the snake is there ahead of time versus just stumbling into one, that would about give me a heart attack. I don't think I could turkey hunt in the spring once it warms up in May in known timber rattler areas lol, I would be to freaked out. I've even thought about going out and driving some gravel in Winterset hoping to come across one in the road. I've learned where some dens etc must be close just through searching names/youtube/facebook video's along with beacon property search. I am however not a fan of snakes, they freak me out, even gardner snakes. But just something about a timber rattler I find fascinating. They are beautiful looking snakes, protected in the state unless within 50 yards or so of an occupied house. If anyone in the Madison county area knows on consistent spot is to see them and wouldn't mind me tagging along to see one and snap a couple pics I would love to go.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
I love them!!!! I do not love the danger they present to kids or dogs, etc. folks need to be careful but they are a good part of our North American ecosystem.

hear of the movie or the actual “bridges of Madison county”? I spose we have “rattlers of Madison co”! It’s the layering of limestone in Madison that provides ideal habitat for them. U really dont find that in many areas.

Awesome critters at a safe distance & we all know those snakes fear & hate people. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a rattler bite in iowa but I’m sure it’s happened. Very cool critters regardless.
 

crietveld

Active Member
My Dad's old boss's daughter got bit by one by New Sharon a few years ago. Was life flighted to Iowa City, the local hospital said they were the only hospital in the state with anti venom. The girl was riding a 4 wheeler down a gravel road and ran over the snakes tail, it whipped around and bit her.

We had a report of one on the rec trail around oskaloosa I manage for work earlier this year. I don't know if was actually a rattler but the person reporting it seemed knowledgable
 

sep0667

Land of the Whitetail
My Dad's old boss's daughter got bit by one by New Sharon a few years ago. Was life flighted to Iowa City, the local hospital said they were the only hospital in the state with anti venom. The girl was riding a 4 wheeler down a gravel road and ran over the snakes tail, it whipped around and bit her.

We had a report of one on the rec trail around oskaloosa I manage for work earlier this year. I don't know if was actually a rattler but the person reporting it seemed knowledgable

New Sharon? I find that hard to believe that there are timber rattlers in that area.

Never heard of any around Osky either. I have family in that area.

Not saying its impossible. Just from the research I have done those would both be new areas that I have not heard anything of, especially New Sharon area-that just seems bizarre.
 

Tmayer13

PMA Member
I took this pic 2 weeks ago...Madison Co...I died a little inside when I saw it...you guys may think they are cool but I think they all should die a slow painful death....I was in my truck when I took this pic and was still scared...F these things hahaha


Sent from my moto g power using Tapatalk
 

breckhawk

Well-Known Member
I took this pic 2 weeks ago...Madison Co...I died a little inside when I saw it...you guys may think they are cool but I think they all should die a slow painful death....I was in my truck when I took this pic and was still scared...F these things hahaha


Sent from my moto g power using Tapatalk
I'm with you. I don't mind a big ole bullsnake...but things with venom...no thanks.
 

sep0667

Land of the Whitetail
Here's some links to some good Iowa timber rattlesnake info.

This first link is really interesting, its historical notes about the winterset area first being settled in the 1800's.


https://www.thefamilyparmelee.com/f-snakeguy.html Bounty on rattlesnakes as late as the early 70's.
http://herpjournal.com/ click on the year to see photos etc from each year.
 

cybball

PMA Member
I'd love to see one too. Not when sitting on the ground hunting, but from a short distance. Never have seen one in Iowa. One guy on Youtube that found them in his yard lives right by Earlham. I know him through my in-laws. I never knew they were over there too.
 

Obsessed

Well-Known Member
Not sure if it was a 'Timber' rattler, but I guess as a kid (3ish or 4ish), I picked a baby rattler up by the tail in CO while we were on a family vacation. My Dad over obtained his goal of making sure his kids weren't afraid of snakes... I vaguely remember my parents and the other adults we were visiting, telling me gently but sternly to put the snake down and get away from it. They were panicked, but couldn't freak out, otherwise I probably would have gotten bitten.

It amazes me summers directly following winters where we had a week or more of solid negative zero degree temps, (like last winter), that it doesn't completely wipe out populations of warm weather species like this. Maybe these counties didn't have the cold like Central IA did, or maybe the deep snow cover insulated them.

It would be a learning curve for me to be mindful of where I put my feet and hands if poisonous critters ever moved into my neck of the woods.
 

JNRBRONC

Moderator
Every year while I was growing up, we traveled to western Kentucky to visit my grandparent's farm. Grandpa had a pond full of bass, bluegills and turtles. It was about a half mile hike out to pond to fish. Iowa nightcrawlers slayed the fish. I had quite a few snake "experiences" at and on the way to and from the pond. One day, I was sitting on the bank, resting my feet out on a boulder that was about a foot from shore. Caught movement out of the corner of my eye to see a large cottonmouth swim under my legs. I think I landed about six feet back. :eek: Made it back to the house in record time.

Another family vacation driving to visit my uncle in CO. Driving at night, Dad comments that he keeps running over rattlesnakes that were on the pavement seeking warmth. I begged him to pull over to cut off rattles for me. He grumbled something about snakes being able to bite when dead.

Always felt lucky that Iowa had few venomous snakes......

If snakes can get 3 or 4 feet below the ground surface in the limestone cracks, it never gets close to freezing down there for them to over winter.
 

kelcher

Well-Known Member
NE Iowa the DNR actually clear cut the Cedar trees on some of the more bare side hills for rattler habitat.

Just great for those of us that climb those hills to get to the turkeys. See more and more every year.
 
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