Come Closer, Go Away: The Conflicting Dynamic of Rattlesnakes and Their Use and Avoidance of Develop

Andrews, Kimberly M.

Odum School of Ecology

University of Georgia

Brunswick, Georgia, USA

Colbert, Joseph E.

Jekyll Island Authority Conservation Department Jekyll Island State Park

Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA

While much of the story about how rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp.) interact with development is yet to be told, existing research has provided clear examples of both the avoidance of and attraction to development and habitats with active human presence. Understanding the circumstances that certain species may be attracted to or deterred by human-associated structures and activities is necessary to inform practitioner’s how to develop or manage natural features, and design or mitigate infrastructure, such as roads and buildings. Our investigation of the responses of pit vipers to development has been on-going for over 15 years and includes multiple studies of Timber Rattlesnakes (Canebrake, Crotalus horridus) and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes (Crotalus adamanteus) in South Carolina and Georgia. We will feature results for these two species from our past and current field research and how habitat use can vary with landscape and the degree of human use, and species. Additionally, we will provide a qualitative summary that is observational in nature in order to facilitate discussion with other pit viper experts on their experiences and observations of rattlesnake response in or near development. If collaborative interests with other species found in or around development occur from discussions related to this research, there may be opportunities to pursue a multi-author synthesis on snake response in developed landscapes that considers options for habitat management and infrastructure design that reduce the conflicts between snakes and people.

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