Rattlesnake question.

I’ve tried searching for this, but all the information I find is the same. It’s stuff like this.

“When a rattlesnake is born he has a small rounded tip on his tail known as the pre button. Several days after his birth he will shed his skin for the first time and lose this pre button which the button will replace. This is the first segment of his rattle. But it takes at least two rattle segments to produce any noise. He will gain this ability with his next skin shedding. Thereafter throughout his life he will add a rattle segment with each shedding. It is unusual to find more than eight or nine segments on a wild caught rattlesnake because of the wear and breakage of the terminal segment(s).”

I’ve found a lot of that, but nothing that tells what makes the rattling sound. What’s shaking around in there?

At http://www.wf.net/~snake/faq3.htm

the question “can you tell how old a rattlesnake is by counting the number of rattles on the tail?” is answered with:

“No! The rattler itself is a dry cartilage-like piece of skin that represents the end product of the shed process. Each time the snake sheds, it adds one additional button or segment to the rattle. The many loose overlapping segments allow a vibrating, quivering movement effect which makes the sound of rattling when the snake activates the muscles of the tail. The snake may shed several times a year as it undergoes growth or needs to rejuvenate its old rougher skin for stalking and movement purposes. During a very wet year, the snakes tend to shed more often, and as they are growing rapidly at an early age they shed more. Counting the buttons may shed more light on how many times the snake has shed its skin rather than its age, since the shedding process does not coincide with the calendar. Also, the snake often breaks the rattler off many times during the course of daily living. Larger, older snakes have usually lost their neo-natal or first primary button, along with several more, so that they do not even have all the rattlers they have developed during their lifetime and travels. Besides, accurate counting can be very tricky on a live snake!”

I think this explains the process and the resulting rattling noise.


Thanks Delphica. That’s what I needed.