During cold periods in temperate regions, reptiles must seek warmer refugia for survival. Some species will congregate communally in artificially high densities at such refugia, thus exposing entire denning colonies to potential threats (e.g., fire mortality, human persecution, and predation). One communally hibernating snake is the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), a threatened pit-viper known to congregate at den sites with upward of 200 conspecifics. Because C. horridus is a slow maturing, long-lived reptile with low reproductive rates, it lacks the demographic plasticity to recover from population declines rapidly. Thus, information regarding the timing and triggers of ingress and emergence is required to inform conservation and land management. Here, we report the over-wintering phenology of C. horridus across nine hibernacula in Illinois during 2018 and 2019. The information presented here will advise land management activities (e.g., prescribed burning, logging, habitat restoration) to minimize human-induced disturbance and mortality of C. horridus throughout Illinois, in addition to guiding future research and conservation.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference 2020|
|State||Published - 2020|