Madeline Alfieri graduated SUNY Cobleskill in 2014 with a Wildlife Management degree and went on to a position with the NYS Department Environmental Conservation, where she is currently working with the Seneca Park Zoo to develop an aging technique for Timber Rattlesnakes.
from the Seneca Park Zoo blog on 11/3/15 – “NYSDEC has been studying Eastern Timber Rattlesnakes, a threatened species, for approximately five years. This year we have started looking at rattle segment widths as a form of age analysis. Getting a better grasp on age of the individuals in New York’s population is extremely important as it allows us to manage them in the best possible way,” says Alfieri.
Timber rattlesnakes add a new rattle segment to their tail when they shed, which may be every other year in their natural range. So, why don’t biologists simply count rattle segments to determine age in wild populations?