Chuck Waggy, a biologist with The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, has a passion for rattlesnakes-timber rattlers that are all over our state.
He's right in the middle of a research project that has him scouring the mountains looking for these magnificent creatures.
"The main purpose of this study, right now, it will probably be modified in the future, is to locate the winter dens. We wanted to be able to find those dens because that's the headquarters for a snake-they stay there, that's their home base." says Waggy.
They'll head into their dens later this month, but right now, it's breeding season and that means the snakes are congregating here, up on a rocky mountain in the Eastern Panhandle.
We find about 8 or 9 in this one spot, now we have to get them out of the rocks and put transmitters on them so we can track their movements.
"It is incredible to feel the power of these snakes. He's in this tube and he's not very happy-who would be, being captured? These tubes get smaller and smaller, hear that? He doesn't like being in there-he's gonna be safe to go back out."
But first Chuck will put a transmitter on the snake, and a tag just under its skin. Keeping a transmitter on one of these bad boys is still a work in progress.
"We put it on with tachyderm tape, it's a surgical tape that breathes so the skin can breathe. It's like magnum Saran Wrap plus it has adhesive on it-it doesn't come off." says Waggy.
Tracking these snakes is a big part of the study, and Chuck says he's learning new things all the time.
"I captured one several years ago on private property and removed it at the land owner's request but then I released it about 3/4 of a mile away. The next year, we caught it at the exact square foot we had caught it the year before." says Waggy.
Knowing where these guys are is key to Chuck's study, but there's a lot left to learn. He's still hoping to be able to track a female into a den and be able to find her next year, and with a little luck, this might be the right snake and right den.
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