Have you ever taken a walk in the woods and heard a rattlesnake’s rattle? Thank goodness for the warning, because if you don’t back off, the snake could strike you.
Rattlesnakes are famous for their rattle and live in the Americas, usually found in the southwestern United States. Rattlesnakes are mostly brown or gray. They can also be bright colors, like pink or red, like Grand Canyon rattlesnakes. They are mostly under 7 feet and weigh between 2 - 15 lbs.
The rattle is made from special loose scales that rub against each other to give the classic rattling sound that scares away animals, mainly predators that want to hunt it.
Rattlesnakes also have a nickname, pit vipers. They are called that because of two pits near the nostrils of the snake that give them an exceptional “heat vision” to locate prey in the dark.
Rattlesnakes prey on tiny animals like frogs, toads, salamanders, rodents, mice, rats, hamsters, moles, rabbits, squirrels, mongooses, birds and bird eggs, lizards, etc. They even prey of several insects like grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and even termites. Rattlesnakes use their sense of heat and smell to find its prey. They eat their prey head first, so it finds a place so its prey can digest.
Rattlesnake's predators are birds like the great-horned owl, American bullfrog, and even other snakes such as indigo snakes. Indigo snakes have bigger jaws and are also immune to rattlesnake venom. Even humans are rattlesnakes’ predator. People kill them either due to fear or even to eat them as meat. Most rattlesnake eaters say rattlesnake tastes like chicken.
Some species of rattlesnakes are becoming endangered. The South Catalina Island Rattlesnake is critically endangered due to illegal poaching and invasive predators, such as the feral cat. You may also spot rare white colored rattlesnakes, called albino rattlesnakes. Albinism is a disorder caused due to lack of melanin pigment in the body which determines the color of skin, hair, and eyes, giving snakes the white color.
Rattlesnake bites are usually not fatal, but make sure to get medical attention quick and try to stop the venom before it reaches the heart. Restrict movement as much as possible. Remove any jewelry or tight clothing because rattlesnakes' bite causes swelling.
Rattlesnakes are very interesting, from body form to rare snakes. The classic rattling sound is something no one wants to hear, but learning about them is fun!
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Image Courtesy: Wikipedia, flickr.com