TWRA seeks public help finding rattlesnakes

TWRA is asking for the public's help in determining the full range of pygmy rattlesnakes in Tennessee. The Pygmy Rattlesnake is the smallest, and one of the least known, venomous snakes in Tennessee. (Photo: Greg Sievert via TWRA)

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is looking for rattlesnakes --pygmy rattlesnakes to be specific.

The Agency is assisting wildlife biologists at Tennessee State University in research to determine the distribution of pygmy rattlesnakes in Tennessee.

The pygmy rattlesnake is listed as a threatened species in Tennessee and the research will help in conservation efforts to preserve the species in the state. It is also one of the species included on TWRA's "Watchable Wildlife" web page.

According to the range map, pygmy rattlers are only found along the Tennessee River in WEST Tennessee.

Native to Tennessee, pygmy rattlesnakes are predators that are rarely encountered and play important ecological roles, including the control of rodent populations. These tiny snakes will rattle their tails when threatened, but bites are extremely rare and non-fatal if treatment is administered. The snakes are seldom seen by humans.

To aid their research, the TSU wildlife biologists are asking that anyone who happens to encounter a pygmy rattlesnake to document the location with a photograph with the Smartphone GPS location turned on. (For an IPhone, it is located in Settings/Privacy. Other phones or cameras will have similar settings.) This will provide GPS coordinates of the photo to document the exact location.

Previous pygmy rattlesnake sightings, along with photographs, can also be reported with specific location data and the date of the sighting. Persons are reminded not to harass or attempt to capture the snakes. The TWRA does not want anyone to endanger themselves.

Pygmy rattlesnake sightings and information may be reported to one of the following biologists: Shawn Snyder or by phone (717) 683-4226; You can email Dr. Bill Sutton or reach him by phone at (615) 963-7787.

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