What Exactly is Inside a Rattlesnake’s Rattle?

November 7, 2016

Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?

The slithering serpents have woven their way through countless cultures, becoming (typically) feared in each one. Few snakes have more infamy than the rattlesnake.

But how do rattlesnakes get their namesake rattle sounds?

snake[ Image Source :What’s Inside ? ]

The YouTube channel What’s Inside? purchased a rattlesnake rattle and decided to give it a go. Grabbing a stylus, he cuts down the middle of the rattle only to discover that there isn’t anything inside.

He explains that when a snake is born it only has the first part of the rattle, known as the first button or prebutton. Days later, the first skin is shed and replaced by the ‘button’. After each change, one more button is added, and all articulated, allowing the movement and the sound of “rattling”.

In other words, the interlocking rings in the rattle knock against each other to produce a buzzing sound when the snake holds its tail vertically and vibrates the rattle. Each time a rattlesnake sheds its skin it adds another segment to the rattle.

The Basics about Snakes

Snakes’ are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. There are more than 3,000 species of snakes in the world. Snakes are usually harmless and can be helpful to humans, as the vast majority are non-venomous.

Rattlesnakes belong to Viperidae family. They are about 30 species ranging in size from 1 to 7 feet, with a lifespan of 25 years. Arizona is home to 13 species, more than any other state.

According to the San Diego Zoo, they are considered to be the most recently evolved snakes in the world, which has relatively heavy bodies (4 to 10 pounds) and diamond-shaped heads. Rattlesnakes have either a rattle or a partial rattle made of interlocking rings, or segments of keratin, the same material our fingernails are made of.

How to Avoid a Snakebite

We’re afraid of being bitten, but remember that snakes bite to defend themselves. If sensing danger, they first try to escape or hide. Different rattlesnake species react in different ways: some remain still, relying on their cryptic coloration for camouflage, while others just glide away silently.

If this isn’t an option, they hiss, rattle their tail, and puff up their body to warn off an enemy. Biting is the last resort for a rattlesnake. The rattle protects other animals from being bitten while at the same time protects the snake from being stepped on! It is an extremely effective and highly evolved predator-avoidance system.

SEE ALSO: Organism Found that Could Rewrite Biology Textbooks

However, The Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake has no rattle, just a small button! It climbs trees and sneaks up on its bird prey, which is easier without a noisy rattle. In addition, Rattlesnakes have triangular heads which makes an important identifying feature in case the snake has lost its rattle.

Just remember to watch your step, especially when walking out in heavy brush or rocky areas.

Via Providr