Bites are rare because timber rattlesnakes and copperheads would rather flee, said Vince Cobb, a herpetologist at Middle Tennessee State University.
While the snakes can’t be tamed, they can become used to being handled. A gentle handler who doesn’t make fast motions near a snake’s head is unlikely to get bitten. Dancing with a snake or handling a snake and fire at the same time is a different matter. “That’s a little more risky — it’s more likely that they’ll get bit,” he said.