I am quite grateful for thick exhibit glass when photographing venomous snakes; this gorgeous timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens would almost certainly not have posed quite so well without it.
Also known as the canebrake rattler, the timber rattler grows to be about 36-60 inches long. It is less aggressive than Florida’s other, more widespread, rattlesnake, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, but it is by no means cuddly. Like all rattlesnakes, it has a “rattle” made of pieces of shed skin at the end of its tail by which it signals its presence, and it is absolutely venomous.
You can clearly see the “pit”, between nostril and eye, from which pit vipers like the timber rattler get their name. The pits are highly sensitive sensory organs which help the snakes locate warm blooded prey. You can also see the keeled (ridged) scales, and part of one of the dark chevrons on the snake’s back — eastern diamondbacks have blotches rather than chevrons or stripes.
The above photo was taken at the Louisville Zoo in 2011.