A very lucky hiker snapped photographs of a rare golden rattlesnake in Letchworth State Park in New York.
While hiking through Letchworth State Park in New York, something Ken Wallace had done numerous times before, he stumbled upon a very rare sight. Slowly slithering across the road ahead of him was a very threatened and rare golden timber rattlesnake.
“I noticed something in the road ahead so as I approached it, I could clearly see that it was a beautifully yellow phase timber rattlesnake,” Wallace posted on the Letchwoth State Park Facebook fanpage just after the event on Monday. “I was able to get some amazing shots of this very private and elusive creature and a no time did it feel threatened by my presence as I stood close by shooting pictures and a video of it.”
Timber rattlesnakes used to be frequently seen throughout parts of New York, but now their numbers are in serious jeopardy. Up until 1971 they had bounties placed on their heads and each one turned in dead would merit an award. These rattlesnakes are also very sought-after in the exotic pet market which they were heavily collected for.
The elusive timber rattlesnake can go through various color phases ranging from the golden yellow Wallace found to almost completely black. They are normally non-aggressive and feed almost entirely on rodents.
They reproduce at extremely slow rates and are protected by state law. It could take decades before, if ever, the timer rattlesnake population reaches healthy numbers again. New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation said that development, continued illegal collecting, and high disturbance rates in forested areas are also slowing the timber rattlers recovery rate.
“I felt quite honored to have this encounter with this amazing snake and believe it or not, in all the years I have hiked through the forest of Letchworth both East and West sides I have never encountered one of these before, so don’t stop coming to Letchworth because rattlesnakes call it their home,” said Wallace.
Shortly after the encounter he informed the park’s visitor center about seeing the rare animal in the park. After showing them his photographs they sent park police out to make sure the rattlesnake was safely off the road so as to not be disturbed any further.
All photos via Letchworth State Park Lovers/ Facebook