Sistrurus miliarius (Linnaeus) – Pygmy Rattlesnake
Sistrurus miliarius (Linnaeus) - Pygmy Rattlesnake

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     Exact locality, based on specimen(s) or photographs examined
     Exact locality, based on literature record believed valid
     Approximate locality based on specimen(s) or photographs examined
     Approximate locality based on literature record believed valid
     County record only, based on specimens or photographs examined
     County record only, based on literature report believed valid
     Type locality
?      Questionable and/or problematic record

Taxonomy:  Of the three recognized subspecies of this snake (Crother et al. 2012), only S. m. streckeri (Western Pygmy Rattlesnake) has been reported from Tennessee (Conant and Collins 1998). However, Sistrurus m. miliarius (Carolina Pygmy Rattlesnake) is the subspecies Mount (1975) found in counties of north Alabama that border Tennessee. 

Distribution:  The Pygmy Rattlesnake occurs in scattered localities on the western Highland Rim from Stewart County in the north to Lawrence County in the south and across the southern tier from Lawrence to Hardeman County. 

Museum Records by Counties:  BentonAUM 25100; APSU 19866.  DecaturAPSU 19462.  HardemanAPSU 15965.  LawrenceLSUMZ 37507-37508.  StewartAPSU 226, 403, 456, 481, 558, 934, 1032, 1033, 4753, 15962, 15963; UMMZ 135303. 

Literature Sources by Counties:  BentonGentry (1956), Jacob (1981).  DecaturJacob (1981), Colvin and Byrd (2014).  HardemanJacob (1981), Norton and Harvey (1975).  HardinJacob (1981).  HickmanJacob (1981).  LawrenceGentry (1956), Gloyd (1940), Jacob (1981).  LewisJacob (1981).  MauryJacob (1981).  McNairy—Endsley (1954), Gentry (1956).  MontgomeryJacob (1981).  PerryJacob (1981).  StewartBarbour (1971), Fann (1994), Jacob (1981), Scott (1990).  TiptonJacob (1981).  Wayne—Jacob (1981). 

Questionable and/or Erroneous Records: For reasons discussed in the Introduction, we determined not to plot localities on species distribution maps that were only supported by unverified specimen sightings, especially those based on second-hand reports. For Sistrurus, this approach resulted in the exclusion of several localities from counties that are normally considered within the range of the species in Tennessee. 

This was particularly true for the information provided by Jacob (1981).  To be consistent with the approach taken throughout this study, we determined not to plot localities from Jacob's (1981) study that were based solely on unverified sightings. In the above list of Literature Sources by Counties, the citation “Jacob (1981)” follows each of the counties identified. However, you will notice on the distribution map provided for Sistrurus that no localities were plotted for Hardin, Maury, Montgomery, Perry, Tipton, and Wayne counties even though Jacob (1981) provided summary data on localities from all of these.  This was because all of the information was based on the unverified sightings of others and, therefore, was not included on our distribution map for the species in Tennessee. With the exception of Montgomery County, the western pygmy rattlesnake probably occurs in most if not all of these 6 counties.  However, voucher specimens and/or photographs of specimens are needed to validate the presence of the species in these areas.  As for Montgomery County, considering the amount of herpetological inventory work having occurred there (Scott 1967, Scott and Snyder 1968, Scott 1991, Zirkle 1993, Rozelle and Scott 1995, Scott et al. 1995, Scott and Williamson 1999,  Fitch 1998), we consider the sight record from Port Royal to be highly questionable and in need of corroboration before it can be accepted. 

Conservation Status: Tennessee populations of Sistrurus miliarius are considered Threatened by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission (Proclamation 00-15, Endangered and Threatened Species) and are given state rankings of S2 (very rare and imperiled within the state, six to twenty occurrences, or few remaining individuals, or because of some factor(s) making it vulnerable to extinction) and S3 (rare and uncommon in the state, from 21-100 occurrences) by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Natural Heritage (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation 2016).

Posted: 1 May 2008

Latest Revision: 11 December 2017

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This document is being adapted to the WWW by Jean Langley, Floyd Scott, and Rusty Smith.