Things You Had NO Clue About Rattlesnakes!

Things You Had NO Clue About Rattlesnakes!


Here are the most interesting facts you didn’t
know about rattlesnakes! 9 – Hold up, how many?! Rattlesnakes are a group of venomous snakes
for those of you that didn’t know that little fact. There are actually 36 known species of rattlesnakes,
with between 65 to 70 subspecies. Rattlesnakes are all native to the Americas,
ranging from southern Alberta and southern British Columbia in Canada alllll the way
down to central Argentina! The large majority of species live in the
American Southwest and Mexico. In the US, the states with the most types
of rattlesnakes are Texas and Arizona. Some species can have extremely specific habitat
requirements, as they’re only able to live within certain plant associations in a narrow
range of altitudes. Most species however, live near open, rocky
areas. Rocks offer these guys cover from predators,
but they also love open areas where they can bask in the sunshine. Rattlesnakes can also be found in a wide variety
of other habitats including prairies, marshes, deserts, and forests. Most species of rattlesnakes aren’t endangered,
according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake is “critically
endangered” because of its limited range – it’s found only on Santa Catalina Island off of
the coast of California. The most interesting feature of this specific
rattlesnake is actually its lack of a rattle. This is widely believed to be a localized
adaptation for hunting birds. 8 – Definitely will need this
Rattlesnake skin has a set of overlapping scales that cover the entire body, providing
protection from a variety of threats including dehydration and physical trauma. One of the major benefits of their is the
fact that it’s patterned in a way that helps them to be camouflaged from their predators. Rattlesnakes don’t generally have bright
or showy colors and instead they rely on subtle earth tones that resemble the surrounding
environment. Creases in their epidermal tissue is what
connects the scales of rattlesnakes. When they eat something really big, these
creases unfold, allowing the skin to expand so they can swallow their much bigger prey. Although a rattlesnake’s skin looks as if
it’s stretching tightly to accommodate their meal, in reality, their skin is simply smoothing
out from its creased state. Another important function of rattlesnake
skin is the sensation of changes in air temperature, which can guide the snakes towards warm basking/shelter
locations. To maintain a stable body temperature, they
exchange heat with their external environments. 7 – The biggest rattlesnake is….. According to National Geographic, the eastern
diamondback rattlesnake are the largest venomous snakes in North America, as they can grow
up to a whopping 8 feet in length! These big guys are found from North Carolina
to Louisiana, and they have a visually striking yellow-bordered black diamond pattern, hence
the name. The maximum reported lengths for an eastern
diamondback rattlesnakes was a little over 8 feet long. One specimen shot in 1946 measured 7.8 feet
in length and weighed 34 pounds. Like most rattlesnakes, this species is terrestrial
and not really good at climbing. However, when they’re really hungry and
in search of prey, they’ve been spotted as far as high as 32 feet off the ground! Can you imagine an 8 foot snake staring you
from a tree?! As if that’s not enough, the eastern diamond
rattlesnakes are also known to be excellent swimmers. Specimens have often been spotted crossing
stretches of water between barrier islands and the mainland off the Georgia coast, in
the Gulf of Mexico and in the Florida Keys, sometimes miles from land. The water’s gotta be one of the worst places
to find a rattlesnake! 6 – Nice little safespace
Rattlesnakes spend plenty of time in dens they make in rocky crevices. Those in colder climates will hibernate there
for the winter, because these snakes definitely like it hot as they’re cold-blooded. What’s interesting is that generation after
generation of rattlesnakes will use the same dens. The San Diego Zoo reported that they sometimes
use the same den for more than 100 years! After it gets warmer and these guys leave
to get some air, you’ll find them sunbathing again to keep themselves warm on rocks and
other open places. Because rattlesnakes like to return to their
old dens year after year, they’ll travel back plenty of miles to get there. It isn’t known exactly how rattlesnakes
find their way back to their dens each year, but the theory is that they use a combination
of pheromone trails and visual cues. 5 – What’s for dinner? Rattlesnakes feast on a variety of creatures
that include rodents such as rats and mice, insects, lizards, small animals and even small
birds. However, a rattlesnake’s favorite foods
are small rodents and lizards. Farmers actually appreciate them to a certain
extent because their appetites help keep the local rodent population in check. Generally speaking, rattlesnakes are ambush
predators that lie in wait for their prey. Once something they like comes into range,
they’ll strike by biting its prey with its venomous fangs. However, unlike other species of snakes, rattlesnakes
generally don’t hold their prey until they die. It’s actually common for the prey to move
away before the venom overtakes them. They’ll follow their wounded prey by listening
for sounds and flicking its tongue. Their venom will paralyze their dinner, and
after it’s ready, they’ll then do the whole swallow without chewing thing. The prey is ingested head-first, which allows
wings and limbs to fold at the joints in a manner which minimizes the girth of the meal. The gastric fluids of rattlesnakes are extremely
powerful and it allows for the digestion of bone as well. The digestive process can take several days,
and rattlesnakes do become sluggish and hide during the digestive process. These are guys are definitely feast or famine,
as adult rattlers typically eat about once every two weeks. 4 – What’s brumation?! In the colder winter months, some rattlesnake
species enter a period of brumation, which is a period of dormancy similar to hibernation. They often gather together for brumation in
large numbers, as sometimes they like to hangout with over 1,000 other snakes! Rattlesnakes regularly share their winter
burrows with a wide variety of other species such as turtles, other types of snakes, and
small animals. If I were a turtle, I definitely wouldn’t
want these guys to keep me warm! Rattlesnakes prefer a temperature range between
80 and 90 degrees fahrenheit. However, just because they prefer those temperatures,
it doesn’t mean that they can’t also survive temperatures below freezing. They can recover from brief exposures of temperatures
as low as 4 degrees Fahrenheit and survive for several days in temperatures as low as
37 degrees Fahrenheit. Snakes don’t actually sleep in brumation,
but their bodies do acclimate to a lower temperature, as their metabolism slows, and they become
less active and less inclined to eat. Brumation is necessary for breeding. If male snakes don’t cool down at some point
during the year, they most likely aren’t able to produce fertile sperm. Well I guess that gives a new meaning to cooling
down the boys! 3 – Just a love bite
Did you guys know that rattlesnakes can sometimes bite without releasing any poison?! These types of bites are known as “dry bites”. The venom of most rattlesnake species is composed
mainly of hemotoxins and it’s obviously extremely potent. Rattlesnake venom is a mixture of five to
15 enzymes, various metal ions, biogenic amines, lipids, free amino acids, proteins, and polypeptides. It contains components designed to immobilize
and disable their prey, as well as digestive enzymes which break down tissue to prepare
for later ingestion. Rattlesnake venom is extremely stable, and
retains its toxicity for many years in storage. Older snakes possess more potent venom, and
larger snakes are frequently capable of storing larger volumes of it. Some rattlesnake species have venom that contains
neurotoxins as well! Mojave, tiger, and speckled rattlesnakes are
examples of rattlesnakes where either the entire species or certain populations within
the species produce neurotoxins. Neurotoxins act faster than hemotoxins and
target the nervous system. Symptoms from a neurotoxic rattlesnake bite
include problems with vision, difficulty swallowing and speaking, skeletal muscle weakness, and
respiratory failure. The good thing for all of us is that rattlesnakes
rarely bite unless they feel threatened or provoked. Around half of all bites that occur is where
someone saw the snake, yet they didn’t make any effort to move away. What’s really ridiculous is that rattlesnake
heads can see, flick the tongue, and inflict venomous bites for up to an hour after being
severed from its body! 2 – Nice Rattles
Sooooo what about the rattle on rattlesnakes?! The most widely accepted hypothesis is that
the rattle is a warning for any predator that just might be trying to eat the rattlesnake. As easy as it was to come up with that theory,
that’s really still the most plausible solution! The rattle is composed of a series of hollow,
interlocked segments made of keratin. Each segment is created by modifying the scales
that cover the tip of the tail. The contraction of the special “shaker” muscles
in the tail causes these segments to vibrate against one another, which is what’s making
the rattling noise. The noise is then amplified because each of
the segments are empty on the inside. The muscles that cause the rattle to shake
are some of the fastest known, as they twitch roughly 50 times per second on average. At birth, what’s called a “prebutton”
is present at the tip of the snake’s tail. It’s replaced by the “button” several
days later when the first skin is shed. However, no sound can be made by the rattle
until a second segment is added when the skin is shed again. A new rattle segment is added each time the
snake sheds its skin. A rattlesnake may shed its skin several times
a year, depending on what it’s eating, which affects its growth rate. Because of this, as well as the fact that
their rattles can damage and break, the age of a rattlesnake isn’t related at all to
the number of rattles on its tail! 1 – Cover yourself in Mud
Like all pit vipers, rattlesnakes have two organs that can sense radiation: their eyes,
and a set of heat-sensing “pits” on their faces that allow them to locate prey based
on the prey’s thermal radiation signature. The pits function optically like a pinhole
camera eye. The thermal radiation, in the form of infrared
light, enters and passes through the opening of the pit. The light hits the pit membrane, warming this
part of the organ. Infrared cues from these receptors are transmitted
to the brain, where it creates thermal maps of the snake’s surroundings. Because the small sizes of the pit openings,
theoretically these thermals images are low in resolution and contrast. On top of that, these pits have a relatively
short effective range of only about 1 feet, but it still does give the rattlesnake a distinctive
advantage in hunting for warm-blooded creatures at night! Still nothing to sniff at! Here’s what’s next!

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