While feeding on small rodents and other mammals, a single timber rattlesnake removes an estimated 2,500-4,500 ticks from their habitat every year, according to a recent study. Many of those ticks ingested by the snakes could be carrying Lyme disease, a serious zoonotic infection that is on the rise in the U.S., leading the researchers to conclude that the snakes are an important natural mechanism for protecting humans from Lyme disease. The timber rattler is considered threatened in five states and endangered in six.

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