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Viewed as scary because of their venomous fangs, rattlesnakes are predators that thrive in different types of habitats. They get their name from the rattling sound they make at the end of their tail. This sound serves as a warning to predators and people passing by.
See the fact file below for more information on the rattlesnakes or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Rattlesnake worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ETYMOLOGY AND TAXONOMY
- Rattlesnakes are part of the Viperidae family or vipers of the animal kingdom. They belong to the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus.
- The scientific name Crotalus is derived from a Greek word meaning “castanet” or a wooden instrument which makes a clapping sound. The term Sistrurus is also derived from Greek which translates to “tail rattler”.
- There are 36 recorded species of rattlesnake and these have an additional 65 to 70 subspecies. All of them are native to North and South America.
- Similar to other snakes, rattlesnakes are elongated, limbless, and have no eyelids. They also lack ears and only have one lung for breathing.
- Rattlesnakes are easily distinguished by the rattle-like structure they have at the end of their tail. This rattle is made up of small hollow beads or shells.
- They have a pair of long hollow fangs that are used to inject poisonous venom into their prey. These fangs fold back up to the rattlesnake’s upper mouth when not in use.
- Crotalus rattlesnakes are larger in size than the Sistrurus species. Sistrurus species have nine large plates covering their heads while Crotalus rattlesnakes’ heads are covered with a large number of smaller scales.
- Colors of rattlesnakes range from brown, gray, and black to the more colorful shades of yellow, olive, and light pink depending on the species. Their scales also form varying patterns such as diamonds, rhombuses, and hexagons.
- Rattlesnakes spend time in dens which they construct in rocky caves. During the winter when the climate is colder, they stay there to hibernate.
- They exhibit defensive mechanisms when faced with possible threats. These include making a rattling sound with their tail rattle, hissing, and coiling their body with their head raised off the ground.
- Their heat-sensing eyes and “pits” allow them to hunt for prey during the night. Rattlesnakes are not exclusively nocturnal. They are however incapable of seeing sharply defined images, which is why they rely on their perception of movement in their environment.
- Their sense of smell is also highly developed. They can smell through their nostrils and by flicking their tongues to the roof of their mouth, carrying scent particles.
- When rattlesnakes bite their prey, the muscles of their venom glands contract, releasing the venom through their fangs and into the tissues of their victim.
HABITAT AND DIET
- Rattlesnakes can live in diverse types of environments like desert sands, grasslands, and rocky hills. They can also be found in the swamps of the Southeastern United States.
- Most species of rattlesnakes live in open, rocky areas because the rocks offer them protection from possible predators. They prefer a temperature range between 26 and 32°C, but can also survive in environments below 0 degrees.
- Their diet consists mostly of small animals such as mice and birds. Once the rattlesnake has injected its prey with venom, they are ingested head-first to allow their limbs or wings to fold.
- The rattlesnake will continue to hunt until its hunger is satisfied. It will then coil up to allow for digestion.
- The majority of species of rattlesnakes mate during the summer or autumn months, while some mate only in the spring.
- Female rattlesnakes emit a trail of pheromones which the males will follow using their smell organs. Once the male and female rattlesnakes find each other, the male will often spend a few days following her around and frequently touching her.
- Some male rattlesnakes in certain species fight with other males during the mating season to attract females. Usually the larger male rattlesnakes will drive out the smaller ones.
- Unlike other snakes which lay their eggs outside, rattlesnakes are ovoviviparous. This means that female rattlesnakes give birth to live young after they have carried the eggs inside their bodies.
- Young rattlesnakes are self-sufficient from birth so the mother does not remain with her young. Although they do not yet have rattles, they are as deadly as adult rattlesnakes because they can already secrete venom when hunting for prey.
- Most rattlesnakes avoid areas with dense human populations. However, deliberate extermination campaigns across the United States pose threats to their population.
- Rattlesnakes often die due to being run over by passing cars. Several species have already been listed as endangered in several US states.
- There are guidelines for humans on how to avoid possible encounters with rattlesnakes which lessens the possibility of getting bitten.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the rattlesnakes across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Rattlesnake worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the rattlesnakes which are predators that thrive in different types of habitats. They get their name from the rattling sound they make at the end of their tail. This sound serves as a warning to predators and people passing by.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Rattlesnake Facts
- Ssssay Hello
- Fact Check
- Life Story
- Rattlesnake FAQs
- Rattlesnake Species
- Two Venomous Snakes
- Snake Recap
- Safety First
- Snake Bite
- In the Wild
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Link will appear as Rattlesnake Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 4, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.