HANCOCK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Hancock man woke up to a huge surprise in the middle of the night on July 6, when his dog started barking at 3 a.m. When he walked into his living room, the man looked down to find a three-and-a-half-foot timber rattlesnake on the floor.
He immediately called for help, and an Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) responded. ECO Osborne captured the rattlesnake and released it back into the wild, far away from any homes.
Although they are not seen very often, timber rattlesnakes are native to New York State and they are venomous. The snakes are generally found in small, localized areas, and are considered a threatened species by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). They are protected by law.
According to the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), there are only three venomous snakes native to New York State. These are the timber rattlesnake, the massasauga (sometimes called the “pygmy rattler”), and the copperhead.
The timber rattler enjoys the widest range and is found mainly in the southeastern part of the state, except for Long Island and New York City. Some populations, though, extend as far north as Lake George.
Timber rattlesnakes are considered a threatened species by the DEC because their populations have been severely reduced, mostly due to bounties and commercial capture for snakeskin products and the pet trade. Killing, injuring, or harassing the animal is illegal in New York State.