PLATTSMOUTH – There used to be a lot.
Now, the Cass County timber rattlesnakes are seemingly gone forever.
“No one has seen one in 50 years,” said John Lokke, artist, naturalist and historian.
Lokke was the guest speaker on the history of timber rattlesnakes in the county during Tuesday’s Brown Bag Speaker Series at the Cass County Historical Society Museum.
According to Lokke, Nebraska is home to 29 species of snakes, four of which are venomous and only one, the prairie rattlesnake, remains widespread statewide.
The timber rattlesnake is the largest of these venomous snakes and the least aggressive, he said.
Lokke estimated that between 500 and 700 of these snakes once lived in Cass County.
“Its scope was drastically reduced in the 20th century,” Lokke said.
The snake has characteristics that make large-scale breeding difficult, according to Lokke.
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They move slowly, which makes them easier to spot. Females reach sexual maturity at a later age, and they have fewer offspring and less frequently than other snakes.
These snakes also like to live in sunny places and when trees have been planted over the years, especially cedars, blocking the sun, it has changed their habitat in negative ways, according to Lokke.
And, needless to say, most people don’t like rattlesnakes, he added.
“I have every reason to believe they no longer live in Cass County,” Lokke said.
He also doesn’t think programs to reintroduce them to the county would be successful.
“The chances of them taking to a new habitat are pretty low,” he said.