Rattlesnake size depends on species. Some large species grow to attain an 8-foot length while on average; they measure three to four feet long. They are not colorful creatures as they camouflage in their environments. Usually, they have a black, olive, brown or grey color. Their heads are triangular and their pupils tend to be vertical.
There are about 32 rattlesnake species that are known to live in South and North America. Rattlesnakes derive their name from the rattle found at the end of their tail which is made from keratin, the substance responsible for building hair and nails in humans. The rattle grows on a continuous basis. Every time the snake sheds skin, which happens several times each year, a new segment of the rattle is added.
Rattlesnakes are highly venomous snakes that produce strong venom that destroys vessels and blood cells. The venom is used as a defense mechanism for predators and for hunting. Their bites are very fatal in humans and require antidote treatment immediately. At times, rattlesnakes bite dry bites; these are bites that do not have venom.
4.How rattling happens
Rattlesnakes produce a rattling sound that informs predators of danger so they stay away. However, rattlesnakes attack without rattling when they are surprised. The rattle is situated at the tip of their tail and the rattling sound is created as the bony doughnut-like segments and hollow in the rattle come into contact.
5.Rattlesnakes are Carnivores
Rattlesnakes feed on meat; they prey on mice, rats and small birds. They have special thermal receptors that help them detect warm blooded animals. They also use their tongue to locate prey. Their tongues pick scent molecules in the air and also sense presence of prey by vibrations on the ground. There are some snakes such as king snakes that are resistant to rattlesnake venom, making them main rattlesnake predators.
Rattlesnakes live in most places in the Western Hemisphere. They are commonly associated with desert and arid rocky areas. However, they also inhabit forested, swampy and prairie areas. Rattlesnakes are good swimmers and are known to survive temperatures ranging from 27 to 32 degrees. They can withstand freezing temperatures though temperatures that exceed 38 degrees turn fatal for these snakes.
7.Threats to Rattlesnake Survival
The main threat to the survival of rattlesnakes is organized killings or exterminations because of people’s fear of these creatures as well as loss of habitation. Many rattlesnakes are also killed in road accidents. The timber rattler, canebrake and massasauga rattlesnakes are some of the species that are listed as endangered and threatened.
During the cold seasons, rattlesnakes tend to hibernate and gather in large numbers in underground dens. They curl up around each other in these dens to keep themselves warm during the cold season.
Rattlesnakes mating seasons vary depending on species. However, most species mate during summer, spring or autumn season. Females produce between 8 and 10 young rattlesnakes. At birth, young rattlesnakes come with highly concentrated venom that may be even more toxic than that of adult rattlesnakes.
10.Hunting in the Dark
Just like other snakes, rattlesnakes do not have ears and cannot hear sounds. However, their eyes are capable of seeing even in poorly lit areas. Rattlesnakes have a hollow part located in the head, between the nostrils and the eyes. This hollow part is known as the pit. The pit is a sensory organ that aids rattlesnakes in sensing body heat enabling them to hunt in the dark.