Photo Source: National Geographic Photo Gallery
Photographer: Bates Littlehales
Rattlesnakes are best known for, and most easily recognized by, their rattle. The rattlesnake babies are born with what is called a pre-button. The baby snake loses this piece when it sheds its skin for the first time. With the shedding a new button appears. With every shedding after that another button, or rattle, will be added. These buttons are made up of a material called Keratin, which is what the scales and your fingernails are made of! The rattles are empty, so what makes the noise? The noise comes from each segment knocking together, so until a rattlesnake has two or more pieces it isn’t going to make a sound! But when it does…you WILL hear it…and you WILL RUN!
Rattlesnakes live in the Americas from southern Canada to Argentina but the majority are found in the southern parts of the United States and Mexico, from the deserts to the mountains and grow between 3 and 4 feet (.9 to 1.2 m) long. There are 16 different types of Rattlers such as the Eastern Diamondback, Western Diamondback, Sidewinder and the Speckled, just to name a few. All of them have rattles, are venomous and are pit vipers.
Rattlesnakes feed on rodents, squirrels, rabbits and other small critters. They hibernate through the winter and come out in the spring to eat and then mate. Rattlesnake eggs will stay inside their mother until they hatch. Most of the time there are 8-10 babies born at once and are about 10 inches long. Babies are born venomous but cannot rattle and are often more aggressive than the adults.
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