8 Rattlesnake Facts for Kids
Rattlesnakes are some of the most fear snakes that are in the Americas. They are poisonous and have a fierce rattle that gets shaken when they are agitated. You can actually tell the age of a rattlesnake based on the size of its rattle. If you hear that rattling sound, then it is time to get out of the place you’re standing as quickly as you can! There are at least 24 different types of rattlesnakes in North America, they all have rattles, and they all have diamond patterning on their scales.
Are you ready to learn more about rattlesnakes today? These snakes might be feared, but as long as you don’t bother them, they typically will not bother you. If you are in rattlesnake territory, then just watch where you step as you walk and you’ll avoid most encounters with these venomous snakes.
1. Watch Out for the Babies
Did you know that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than their parents? These tiny little rattlers don’t actually have a rattle until they get older. This means that you won’t hear them if you happen to be by one. Just because they don’t have a rattle doesn’t mean that they aren’t dangerous. Not only are the baby rattlesnakes just as venomous as their adult counterparts, but they also tend to be more aggressive. If you see a small snake with a diamond pattern on it, then stay away from it and don’t try to poke it or pick it up!
2. It’s a Smelly Tongue
Rattlesnakes use their tongue, which is forked, a lot like a bloodhound uses its nose. They can track the odors of their prey along the ground with their tongues thanks to a smelling organ that’s in the roof of their mouth. As they stick their tongues out, what they are really doing is taking in a deep breath. Then they’ll follow the scent of the animal they are tracking until it gets close… and then it will bite!
Rattlesnakes typically pursue small rodents for food. That’s because they don’t really have the ability to chew their food. They will swallow the animal whole and then their body digests the food as it travels along he body of the snake. Larger rattlesnakes may pursue some larger prey, including squirrels or rabbits, if they get really hungry.
3. They Hatch In a Unique Way
Unlike other animals that lay eggs, rattlesnakes are technically born. That’s because the mama rattlesnake will actually hold her eggs inside of her to keep them warm so that they will hatch instead of creating a nest somewhere. Once the eggs hatch, the baby rattlers will crawl out of the pouch where they hatched. Then they head out into the world and begin to survive on their own.
Rattlesnake moms don’t have babies every year. Most of them will only have baby rattlesnakes about once every 3 years.
4. Did You Hear That?
One of the ways that rattlesnakes are truly unique is in the fact that they don’t have any ears. They actually can’t hear most sounds, but they can “feel” those sounds through the vibrations that soundwaves make. This is why a rattlesnake knows you are coming close to them. Not only can they smell you with their tongue, but they can hear the vibrations of your footsteps. That’s why it is so important to make sure you watch where you’re walking when you are in rattlesnake territory!
5. Eyes Like a Cat
Rattlesnakes might not be able to hear very well, but they certain have the ability to see incredibly well. The eyes of the rattlesnake are designed to help them see well even in the lowest of light levels. Rattlesnakes are also called “pit vipers” because of the sensory organ that sits about where you’d expect a nose to be. This organ helps rattlesnakes be able to sense body heat from their prey, so when this is combined with their crazy good eyesight, they can hunt very effectively in the dark.
6. The Rattles Keep Growing
Did you know that the rattles a rattlesnake has are actually empty? They make the rattling sound because the different segments of the rattle bang together. The rattle at the tip of the tail keeps growing and the different segments tend to fall off over time. Larger rattles make for deeper sounds that are also louder, so if you hear an extremely loud and low rattle nearby, there’s probably a huge rattlesnake that’s curled up nearby.
7. Rattlesnakes Can Get to Be Big
The average rattlesnake can weigh up to 5 pounds when it is fully grown, but that isn’t what gets the attention of someone. Rattlesnakes can grow to an average length of 65 inches, which means that they are over 5 feet long! Some rattlesnakes can be up to 8 feet long if they have access to regular food in their environment and consistently warmer temperatures.
Even though they can get to be very big, people still tend to miss them because of the unique camouflage patterning that is on their bodies. Their coloring blends in perfectly with the desert and mountain environments that they call home. About 8,000 people are bitten every year by a rattlesnake, but thanks to effective anti-venom, most people can recover if they receive treatment quickly.
8. Like a Vampire
Rattlesnakes have a powerful, painful bite thanks to the long fangs that are within their mouth. These fangs can penetrate deeply and distribute the venom into their prey. These fangs are a lot like teeth, but they have characteristics for the rattlesnake that make them a lot like their rattles too. Rattlesnakes will shed their fangs about 4 times per year.
Rattlesnakes can be scary when they surprise us, but we can also get along with these predators if we are careful. By knowing how dangerous they can be, watching where we walk, and being aware of facts like these, rattlesnakes and humans can live together in relative harmony.