Rattlesnakes are known for their signature rattling sound, and venomous bite. One bite from a rattlesnake can create dangerous health conditions, and could be deadly. If you see a rattlesnake, use caution and leave it alone. This article will discuss some interesting facts about these deadly pit vipers that you might not have known.
Rattlesnakes lay eggs as all reptiles do. However, they are an ovoviviparous species. This means that the mother produces and retains the eggs internally until after they hatch. The usual brood of tiny rattlesnakes will range from 5-12 snakes, each about 6-8 inches long. Rattlesnakes only reproduce once every 2 years and will carry the eggs for about 90 days.
When a rattlesnake is born, its rattle is very small. In fact, it is just the tip of the tail. Each time a rattlesnake molts it’s skin, the rattle gains an extra tier. Because of this, the signature rattler can show the snake’s age.
How Does The Tail Make Noise?
It may surprise you, but a rattlesnake tail is not a natural maraca. The rattles are segments of a protein called keratin, which is what our nails are made of. There are smaller, ringed segments of keratin found within the tail, loosely fit within. As the snake shakes its tail, the interior keratin vibrates and hits the outer shell. This creates the signature rattlesnake sound.
The Most Evolved Snake
Scientists have concluded that rattlesnakes are the “newest or most recently evolved” species of snakes, according to the San Diego Zoo. Their rattle is a highly evolved predator-avoidance system. Their rattling noise can help them shoo off predators, and scare away humans.
Additionally, the pits below a rattlesnake’s eyes are an important evolution. Rattlesnakes are part of a class of snakes known as pit vipers. Pit vipers have an eye adaptation where the heat-sensitive pits allow them to see prey in total darkness.
There are about 30 different species of rattlesnake, living across North and South America. Only 2 live in New York, the Timber Rattlesnake and the Massasauga. The Timber Rattlesnake is the only species to live in New Jersey. Arizona is the state with the largest range of rattler species, with 13 different types living there. Rattlesnake species are highly varied across the hemisphere; living in swamps, deserts, forests, grasslands, mountains, and more. Some species in colder regions will even hibernate during the winter. The snake’s color can vary greatly by species.