Martin, a rattlesnake researcher who, at the age of 13, documented the first instance of timber rattlesnakes in the Bull Run Mountains.
Noted timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) expert William “Marty” Martin passed away August 3 after he was bitten by a timber rattlesnake in his home at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. He was 80 years old. Martin, a rattlesnake researcher was just 13 years old when he documented the first instance of timber rattlesnakes in the Bull Run Mountains.
The teenaged Marty contacted herpetologist Dr. Leslie Burger, who confirmed the den of rattlesnakes Marty discovered in the mountains. Martin, at 17 years old, became a founding member of the Virginia Herpetological Society and served 30 years on the IUCN timber rattlesnake task force, which worked to preserve the species. Martin also co-authored the 2021 “The Timber Rattlesnake: Life History, Distribution, Status, and Conservation Action Plan.”
Into Martin’s 80s, he continued his herping expeditions in the mountains.
“Marty’s happiness was intrinsically tied to the presence and well-being of venomous snake populations, especially his beloved timbers,” Joe Villari, a friend and manager of the Bull Run Mountains Preserve where Martin spent much of his time, said on Facebook.
“At 80 years old, he was more physically capable than most 20 year olds that I have scrambled across the mountain with. Effortlessly crawling up rocky slopes and pushing his way through the thorniest swaths of smilax bushes, ” Villari said.
Martin is survived by his wife Renee.