The possibility of finding a rattlesnake in the Upper Cumberland is very likely.
TWRA Wildlife Diversity Coordinator Daniel Istvanko said the Upper Cumberland is home to one species of rattlesnake out of two in the state: the timber rattlesnake.
“They prefer mature, heavily wooded forests,” Istvanko said. “You know rocky, south-facing slopes with plenty of sunshine. They are often associated with bluffs, ledges, rocks, things like that.”
Istvanko you are mostly likely to encounter a rattlesnake on a hike. If you come across a rattlesnake, he said the most important thing to do is give it space. He said they are usually pretty docile and try to avoid confrontations.
According to TWRA, the timber rattlesnake is the largest and most dangerous of four venomous snakes in the state. Istvanko said you are allowed to take action against an animal if it’s in your home and puts you in danger, but otherwise, you should leave them be.
“In Tennessee, all animals that are not in our hunting guides, anything that you cannot hunt it is illegal to kill,” Istvanko said. “That goes for migratory birds, snakes, lizards, most of our salamanders, things like that.”
Istvanko said if you come across a rattlesnake and notice anything that might indicate an illness to report it to TWRA. He said snake fungal disease is a pathogen has been ongoing in the state and has decimated snake populations, especially rattlesnakes.