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Rattlesnakes have a distinctive sound that if you are unlucky enough to hear when out hiking or rambling, you are best to take as a warning and navigate around. They are notorious for having a nasty bite, for turning up in the most unexpected places, and for being particularly dangerous when threatened. Baby rattlesnakes have a reputation for being more vicious and dangerous than the adults! But is this true, or just a myth?

Here are some fun and some myth busting baby rattlesnake facts that you might not know, as well as some answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions!

7 Baby Rattlesnake Facts You Might Not Know!

Rattlesnake Eggs Hatch Internally, And They Are Born Ready To Survive

Most snakes are what is called oviparous, meaning they reproduce by laying eggs in nests. Rattlesnakes however, do not lay eggs in nests. They actually give birth to live young. This type of reproduction is known as ovoviviparous. Female rattlesnakes only reproduce once every two years and carry the eggs inside their bodies where babies will gestate in their eggs for about 90 days.

When they are ready to hatch, the parent will lay them encased in a clear membrane ready for the world. A normal hatch will have around 4 to 10 baby snakes on average, and they are usually around 10 inches long at birth.

They are born with ready developed senses of sight, smell and heat sensors. As well as developed fangs and venom.

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Baby Rattlesnakes Can’t Rattle

Baby rattlesnakes might be born with venom, fangs and their senses ready to go, but one thing they can’t do is rattle. Baby rattlesnakes do not rattle because they have not yet developed the rattles on their tails.

The rattles are made of interlocking segments of keratin, and it takes time for the snake to grow enough segments to make a noise. They will grow a new segment after each shed of the skin, up to around 8 or 9 segments.

Rattlesnakes may shed their skins several times a year depending on food supply and growth rates and since the rattle can and does break, there is little truth to the claim that one can tell a rattlesnakes age from the number of beads in its rattle. 

Santa Catalina rattlesnakes do not have rattles at all. They have evolved to lose their rattle over time.

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Baby Rattlesnakes Are Called Snakelets

Baby rattlesnakes are called ‘snakelets‘. This is the noun for any small snake and is commonly used to describe the young of any snake species. There are no terms used to differentiate between a male and a female snake. The collective noun for a group of snakes is a ‘slither‘, a ‘nest‘, a ‘den‘ or a ‘pit‘ of snakes.

Den and pit are usually used to describe an area where many snakes live, rather than the group of snakes themselves.

Baby Rattlesnakes Are No More Dangerous Than Adult Rattlesnakes

Baby rattlesnakes have a reputation for being very aggressive and having a venomous bite more deadly than adults. Yes they are venomous, and yes they will attack, but they are not any more deadly than adult rattlesnakes. Neither are they more aggressive.

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In reality, the composition of a snakelet’s venom has the same composition as an adults, and despite popular belief, they can control the quantity of venom injected. These two factors mean that in most cases, a baby rattlesnake’s bite is usually far less serious than that of a larger, adult rattlesnake. An adult will inject a larger quantity of venom as it is larger and can produce more.

That’s not to say that a baby rattlesnake’s bite is not serious, because it is, just not any more so than an adult rattlesnake.

Their reputation for being more aggressive likely comes from the fact that it is much easier and much more common to come into the close vicinity of a baby rattle snake, where you are at risk. As they can’t rattle, there is not the warning sign you get when approaching an adult. A snake that feels threatened will strike, as will a hungry snake. Without the warning of a rattle, a bite is much harder to avoid.

The real danger of a baby rattlesnake bite, is that you might not know you have been bitten and not seek treatment. Bites from a snakelet can be silent, stingless, and often leave little trace.

Baby Rattlesnakes Become Solo Hunters After Their First Shed

Rattlesnakes leave their mothers soon after they are born. They receive very little parental care, and are independent from the moment they hatch from their eggs and do not need their mother’s help to survive. It’s all very ‘cold blooded’, something you can expect from reptiles.

They usually remain close to their siblings until they shed their first skin – between a week to ten days after birth. After this they head out on their own and remain solitary hunters.

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Baby Rattlesnakes Don’t Eat Very Often

Baby rattlesnakes typically eat once every 5-7 days. They hunt generally at night or early morning. Their heat sensors come in very handy at these times of day for finding their prey. They will eat a variety of small mice and rodents, lizards and insects. As they grow, they can survive up to around 2 months without a meal.

There Are More Species Of Rattlesnake In Arizona Than Anywhere Else In The World

There are 36 known extant species and 65-70 subspecies of rattlesnake around the world. Some sources vary depending on how the different species are classified, but this is a general guide according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

They can be found far and wide across the Americas, from Southern Canada to as low as Central Argentina. They are most abundant in the arid desert areas of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Particularly in Arizona.

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There are 13 species of rattlesnakes that can be found in Arizona, more than any other state in the US, and indeed anywhere else in the world. That is almost a third of all species of rattlesnake. The most common types of rattlesnake found in Arizona are the Mojave rattlesnake, black-tailed and Western diamondback species.

While all rattlesnakes are native to The Americas, there are some now found in the wild on other continents, introduced illegally or accidentally as an invasive species. South Africa is one such place where some are known to exist.

Baby Rattlesnake FAQs

Baby Rattlesnake Lifecycle

Rattlesnakes are born ready for the world, with all the senses and faculties they need to live as effective, solitary hunters. Males mature quicker than females in general though and reach sexual maturity around 3-4 years old. Females don’t reach sexual maturity until between 7 -13 years but this can vary widely depending on the species.

Rattlesnakes can live for up to 25 years in the wild, although the average is closer to 15 years. In captivity, they can live for much longer, with some snakes living for close to 40 years.

How Quick Do Baby Rattlesnakes Grow?

Rattlesnake hatchlings typically grow about 2 inches per month. They reach sexual maturity in about 2-3 years. They are different to mammals in that even in adulthood they don’t stop growing. They go through periods of growth and shedding for their entire lives.

How Big Do Rattlesnakes Grow?

The largest Rattlesnake is the Eastern Diamondback (Crotalus adamanteus) which grows up to 8 feet (2.4 metres) and weighs 4 to 10 pounds (1.8 to 4.5 kilograms). The smallest is the Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi) at 12 inches (30.5 centimetres) long and weighing 3 to 4 ounces (85 to 113 grams). Most species of Rattlesnake are 24 to 48 inches (61 to 122 centimetres) long.

In some species such as the Mojave rattlesnake, males grow a few inches longer than females.

How Many Rattlesnakes Are Born In A Litter?

The average litter size for a baby rattlesnake is between 4 and 10 snakes in some observations, and between 3 – 13 in other observations.

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What Do Baby Rattlesnakes Look Like?

Rattlesnake Hatchlings are typically around 6-8 inches in length and are a light gray or tan in color. They have a black stripe running the length of their bodies, and their tails are banded with black and white rings

What Do Baby Rattlesnakes Eat?

Rattlesnake hatchlings are carnivorous, and feed primarily on small lizards and rodents. They also consume insects, frogs, and other snakes. Once they have struck and killed their prey, they will coil around it and swallow it whole.

Where Do Baby Rattlesnakes Live?

Baby Rattlesnakes live in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, mountains and deserts. They are also found in residential areas, where they often enter homes through cracks and crevices.

Rattlesnakes need a warm, dry climate in order to survive. In North America, they are found in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and parts of Canada.

Natural Predators Of Baby Rattlesnakes

Natural predators of baby Rattlesnakes include hawks, eagles, owls, coyotes, and mountain lions. Baby Rattlesnakes are also preyed upon by some snakes, including king snakes and gopher snakes. In fact the main predators of baby rattlesnakes are other snakes, including other rattlesnakes. Other predators include foxes, raccoons, wild boars and skunks.

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