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Timber Rattlesnake

West Virginia State Reptile

Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) official state reptile of West Virginia. Photo by tom spinker / Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution/no derivative works).

Official State Reptile of West Virginia

West Virginia designated the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) as the official state reptile in 2008. Timber rattlesnakes are venomous but usually docile unless they are threatened. They can live as long as thirty years and reach five feet in length.  The timber rattlesnake is the only species of snake in the state with a segmented rattle at the end of its tail. All State Reptiles

The timber rattlesnake can be found as far north as Vermont and its southern range includes the gulf coast.  It can live in a variety of habitats, but in West Virginia is now usually found in remote, rocky mountainous regions. 

The eighth-grade class at Romney Middle School in Hampshire County was instrumental in the adoption of the timber rattlesnake as the state reptile of West Virginia (and the adoption of Jefferson's Ground Sloth as the state's official state fossil).

Senate Concurrent Resolution NO. 28

WHEREAS, The timber rattlesnake is an integral part of the history, culture and ecology of West Virginia and the United States; and

WHEREAS, The timber rattlesnake is present throughout West Virginia and its color and pattern is reminiscent of West Virginia's fauna and flora; and

WHEREAS, The timber rattlesnake is important to preserve as a predator and prey in West Virginia's ecology; and

WHEREAS, The timber rattlesnake kills mice and rats at no cost while cleaning up after itself; and

WHEREAS, The timber rattlesnake is a popular icon that does attract attention and, thereby, may enhance tourism; and

WHEREAS, Since no other state has adopted the timber rattlesnake as a state reptile, West Virginia can be the first and it would be a proud contribution by the eighth grade class at Romney Middle School, from West Virginia's oldest county, in West Virginia's oldest town, to have been instrumental in making the timber rattlesnake the state reptile of West Virginia; and

WHEREAS, No fossil has been designated as the official state fossil for the State of West Virginia; and

WHEREAS, Interest in fossils and paleontology has become increasingly widespread throughout the citizenry of this state, there currently being fossil, rock and gem clubs already organized in the counties of Cabell, Harrison, Kanawha and Wood; and

WHEREAS, In 1797, President Thomas Jefferson obtained and described fossil bones from a limestone cave in what is now Monroe County; and

WHEREAS, These bones were again described by Casper Wistar in 1799 as the bones of a giant extinct ground sloth; and

WHEREAS, Wistar named the bones as a new species, Megalonyx Jeffersonnii, in honor of President Jefferson; and

WHEREAS, The bones are from the Ice Age or Pleistocene Epoch which lasted from 10,000 to 1.8 million years ago; and

WHEREAS, The designation of a state fossil would aid in the promotion of interest in geology, paleontology and history; and

WHEREAS, The bones afford an opportunity for special studies in American, state and natural history for the students of the state; and

WHEREAS, Thirty-nine of the 50 states have an official state fossil; therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the Legislature of West Virginia: That the Legislature hereby designates the timber rattlesnake as West Virginia's state reptile and designates the fossil Megalonyx Jeffersonnii as West Virginia's state fossil; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the Senate is hereby directed to forward copies of this resolution to the citizens and schools in the state.