The snake pictures amongst the Cohutta photos seem to have
some interest, so I'll add a little more context for them. When
used to average four days a week hiking in the southern
I would typically see only one or two venomous snakes per year.
two I saw on this past trip matches my record for a one week
Of course, who knows how many I've walked past in huckleberry
In my experience, the venomous snakes in the Appalachians are
aggressive. If you don't mess with them, they won't mess with
The timber rattlesnake in the photograph never rattled even with
people and a dog walking past it. I've stepped within a foot of
rattlesnake without it moving and seen people step as close to
copperheads without provoking a reaction. I'm sure there is
variation from individual to individual, and I've certainly
some rattlesnakes, so I didn't push my luck with the photographs
used my camera's zoom from about five feet away.
Venom is energetically expensive to produce and has a high
cost in terms of catching prey. Hence, relying on camouflage
copperhead photo), rattling, or dry biting improves snakes'
long term survival and reproduction.