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So what exactly is inside a rattlesnake’s rattle?

Rattle of a snake (What's Inside/Youtube)
April 07, 2016

The rattlesnake is one beast that no one wants to run into. Their deadly bite can take out even the strongest man.

Most people have seen a rattlesnake, be it on a hike or a zoo or on the golf course. The sound is unmistakable. So what exactly is inside?

The great YouTube channel “What’s Inside?” was asking themselves the same question and the answer was actually very surprising!


Check it out:


There are 36 different species of rattlesnakes in the world and the rattle is what keeps predators away.

A trip to the Phoenix Zoo may reveal the answer. Comparing the rattle of a rattlesnake that was bought on eBay to a live one at the zoo could prove to be interesting.

A rattlesnake can shake his rattle 50 times per second and can do is sustained for up to four hours.

(What’s Inside/Youtube)

When the rattle of the snake is dissected and using the knowledge from the zoo and a very sharp razor, the shell is empty, which is surprising. The empty shell is brittle and carries a stench.

The shell is comparable to that of a brittle fingernail, according to Florida Museum.


When rattlesnakes are born, they have only one button across the undeveloped rattle and it is called the “pre-button.” A few weeks later when another layer develops and a “button” appears, but it still doesn’t rattle or make any noise until they get a second layer and then they can fully use their rattle to sound off predators.

Rattlesnakes have a second defense mechanism when they are threatened, they hiss. Sara Viernum, a herpetologist based in Madison, Wisconsin said “it is similar to a cat hissing when threatened by a dog,” according to Live Science.

If you have ever heard that the longer a rattlesnake’s rattle is the older the snake is but that’s not always the case. Sometimes they lose their rattle from a predator, a fight, or just from getting stuck in places.

(What’s Inside/Youtube)

It is as easy for a rattlesnake to lose its rattle as it is for a human to tear a fingernail.

But the question still remains, if there is nothing inside the rattle, how does it make that sound?

Viernum said, “Rattles are segments of keratin that fit loosely inside one another at the end of the snake’s tail. These segments knock against each other to produce a buzzing sound when the snake holds its tail vertically and vibrates the rattle. Each time a rattlesnake sheds its skin it adds another segment to the rattle,”