- Feb 1, 2005
- Reaction score
- Waltham, Mass.
Good info, you’re obviously more knowledgeable about them than I am. If I see a triangular head and/or hear rattling, I think “rattler!” At the time I didn’t know about the triangular head so rattling = rattler. I’m thinking that if there are very few rattlers in Maine then it’s not likely there’ll be many shed skins. How often would they shed in southern Maine’s climate? I’m assuming that the short warm season and long hibernation season would result in very slow growth. Are shed skins eaten by anything?
"Triangular head" is another one that's hard to use in practice. Water snakes (and a few others) also have bulging heads. The variable camouflage color patterns of both rattlers and other species can make it very difficult to judge head shape, even if you get a clear view from a useful angle.
Some mammals and birds eat snake skin (hey, free protein) and a few snake species even eat their own. They also rot, slowly. Shedding rate depends on growth - young snakes shed more often, but adults shed "every few months". So very likely a snake in Maine will shed only once or twice a year, versus at least double that in a warmer climate. On the other hand, winter preserves shed skins very well, so in New England you can find last year's sheds in the spring. It's much more likely to see a snake than to find its skin, but sightings are sadly not very reliable as evidence. A skin with a rattle would be good evidence, and if you combine the thousands of people using the habitat around Biddeford with the hundred years since good evidence has been found, you conclude that if there are any rattlers, they are few and/or newly arrived. I think it's more likely that any rattlers you find in Maine would be escaped pets... it's actually a little surprising to me that a feral population doesn't exist yet. Perhaps the area is not as rattler-friendly as it used to be. (Fewer mice? More hazards?)