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Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) of the Pine Barrens: Their Movement Patterns and Habitat Preference

Howard K. Reinert and Robert T. Zappalorti
Copeia
Vol. 1988, No. 4 (Dec. 28, 1988), pp. 964-978
DOI: 10.2307/1445720
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1445720
Page Count: 15
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Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) of the Pine Barrens: Their Movement Patterns and Habitat Preference
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Abstract

Radiotelemetry was used to monitor the movements and habitat use of timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. Reproductive condition strongly influenced both aspects of behavior. Males generally exhibited the largest activity ranges, and the sizes of their ranges were positively correlated with the number of days the snakes were monitored. This was not true for gravid or non-gravid females. Time series analyses indicated that movement patterns of males and non-gravid females consisted of constantly shifting, non-overlapping activity areas. In most cases these snakes moved in a looping pattern during the active season that returned them to the same hibernation site from which they departed. Gravid females exhibited more static, overlapping activity areas and shorter dispersal distances from hibernacula. Males and non-gravid females utilized forested habitat with greater than 50% canopy closure, thick surface vegetation (approx. 75%), and few fallen logs. This habitat occurred with high frequency throughout the study area. Gravid snakes utilized less densely forested sites with approx. 25% canopy closure, an equal mixture of vegetation and leaf litter covering the surface, frequent fallen logs, and warmer climatic conditions. This habitat occurred in low frequency on the study area and was largely restricted to the edge of sand roads.

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