Consumer Info: What’s Inside a Rattlesnake Rattle?

Well, of course snakes are scary; you know, their looks, their hiss and they bite! But come to think of it, they only bite humans when they feel threatened. It’s their defensive mechanism — unfortunately, we panic when we see one, that’s understandable as you’ll never know. 0406 rattlesnake 2

Yet one of the more interesting snakes around is the ‘rattlesnake’. Yup, those snakes whose tails (rattle) make noise when they sense some danger. Still, have you ever thought what’s inside of a rattlesnake rattle?

Wow, so there’s really nothing in it after all! Just 2 layers of scales in about 12 segments of tail. And, it’s actually the inner layer that makes noise in a rattling speed of approximately 50 times a second — with the ability to sustain it for up to 3 hours! All this as a ‘warning’ device to drive predators away.


In case you are wondering, a rattle segment doesn’t necessarily mean age; however, a new rattle segment is added each time the snake sheds its skin, and the snake may shed its skin several times a year, depending on food supply and growth rate. (Wiki) Britannica_Rattlesnake_Rattle

There are over 30 species of rattle snakes and they are found throughout North and South America — in rock piles, wood piles, shady areas when temperatures are high or in the middle of the road during cool periods. While death is not likely, rattlesnake bites are extremely painful and it takes a very long time for the wound to recover from an envenomated bite. (UCSB NRS)

So, carry a stick. Be alert. And don’t panic.


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