Does a rattlesnake really smell like watermelon?

An old friend of mine was a hunter and a top-notch trap shooter. I’m a city feller with very little woods sense. When he’d spin his tales of deer, rabbits, squirrels, and coyotes, I really had no reason to doubt what he said. He once told me, “If you’re walking along, and you suddenly smell watermelon, stop in your tracks. Look around, and listen for a rattlesnake.” I’d never seen a rattlesnake outside of a zoo, but I filed that away.

Well, the last time I saw old Dan, he was about to retire. It was late 1999, and he laid a bunch of paranoia on me about stockpiling guns, the impending UN takeover, and running the highways backwards. “Ye cats,” I thought, “my old friend has gone off the rails.” It made me very sad, and I didn’t think until much later that the hunter’s lore might have been just as crazy. :smack:

So, tell me. Does a rattlesnake smell like watermelon?

Of course they do, all members of the animal kingdom smell like a fruit. Frogs, lime. Koalas, kiwi. Penguins, banana. Antelopes, apple. Unicorns, pomegranate. And so on. :stuck_out_tongue:


Rattlesnakes ( and I’ve had my hands on a few ) smell like rattlesnakes, which is not even remotely close to watermelon. It’s a slightly musky odor, actually.

  • Tamerlane

Oh and the odds of smelling a rattlesnake before you hear one is probably close to nil, unless you come across a den full of estivating animals. They don’t generally stink that strongly as individuals unless you are up close.

  • Tamerlane

When I was about seven or eight years old a young friend of mine told me that if you smell watermelon to be careful, there is a snake close by. I have never in over fifty years heard anything else about it until your post. At least I know she wasn’t just making that up to scare me.

I would trust those who have handled snakes to know the truth though.

Blackdragon, I was taking your answer perfectly seriously until I got to the last one. Unicorns really smell like casabas. The uninitiated are told that they smell like pomegranate before they take part in the Great March of the Celestial Virgins. You do know about the march, don’t you?

No, they don’t smell anything like watermelon. However, when left to their own ground, rattlesnakes like to get together for Midori daiquiris, and at such times there is a definite melon scent to the air.

No, they don’t smell anything like watermelon. However, when left to their own ground, rattlesnakes like to get together for Midori daiquiris, and at such times there is a definite melon scent to the air.

Well, all the rattlesnakes I have eaten have smelled like, as well as tasted like, chicken.

Maybe they got it confused with rattlesnake watermelons?
(Why are they called that, anyways? Because of the pattern on the rind?)

No, it’s because, unlike other watermelons, a rattlesnake watermelon, when left in the sun, will totally desiccate before decomposing, making a cheerful rattle.

100% of FACT.

Please, let’s not all rush out and begin sniffing rattlesnakes. Why don’t we leave this one to professionals?




I once faced down a rattler, and I was in no mood to get close enough to smell it.

In fact, my main goal was to avoid getting that close involuntarily.

I don’t recall a smell at all, come to think of it.

      • Also: as far as IL snakes go, when they “rattle”, they don’t rattle, they buzz: it souds like a hornet hovering, but louder. The tips of their tails will shake back and forth about a quarter-inch, about as fast as a hummingbird moves its wings–so fast the end of the tail is just a blur.

Dunno about rattlesnakes, but Water Moccasins (sp?) most definitely have a musky odor, almost like B.O. or something.

The one time I came across a rattlesnake in the wild, I thought it smelled like sh*t, until I realized that was me I was smelling!

An Arky is correct about the water moccasins (cottonmouth moccasins, a.k.a “stump-tail”). They smell musky to me, though I’ve heard some people describe it as watermelon odor.**

Nametag is my hero.

I was working with a USGS survey team one summer and we unearthed a nest of copperhead young (eggs and some newborns) - the whole area smelled like cucumbers. I don’t know if the same would hold true for rattlesnakes or not.

I believe “Smells Like Estivating Rattlesanke” was the original working title for the grunge anthem by Nirvana.

I’ve shot and cut the heads off several water moccassins before and brought them home either to skin or use in a prank. They do indeed have a musty, dirty smell that reeks of decay. Don’t know that it made me think of melons but it twern’t real pleasant.

A friend has a couple of rattlers under glass now. Let me check with him and get back to you, although I’d generally tend to give good weight to Tamerlane’s opinion.