PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — When you think of rattlesnakes, New England probably doesn’t come to mind.
Rhode Island actually has a native rattlesnake, and if you want to see one, Roger Williams Park Zoo is the only place you can. This gorgeous reptile used to plentiful across New England, now it has been wiped out in Rhode Island and Maine and is the most endangered of any wildlife species in New Hampshire.
A timber rattlesnake hasn’t been seen in the wild in Rhode Island in 50 years. Through elimination of habitat, poaching, and actual bounties, they were hunted to extirpation.
Conservation biologists closely monitor the remaining small populations in the northeast, but their efforts to save the timber rattlesnake are competing with aggressive animal poachers.
There’s a new threat to the snake as well: a devastating fungal disease. The fungal disease has been detected in every remaining New England population. According to the Cornell Wildlife Health Program, the fungus is resistant to anti-fungal treatment and has a 40% fatality rate, which makes this small safe population at the zoo extremely important.