It’s that time of year! Mother rattlesnakes all over Arizona are having babies. With it comes a wave of visits by baby rattlesnakes, as they wander around trying to figure out their first month of life.
If you see a baby rattlesnake and want to make sure there aren’t others, call us any time at 480-327-9975.
First, I’ll address a common myth that gets passed around. Baby rattlesnakes are not more dangerous than adults. The myth goes a couple of different ways, the most common being that they are young and don’t “know how” to release the right amount of venom. Other than being false, this is inconsequential. It’s not just the toxicity of venom, but how much of it you get. The amount of venom that a baby rattlesnake can give at full-dose is a small fraction of what could be delivered by an adult.
Baby rattlesnakes are also smaller, meaning a much shorter strike range (just inches), and if you were to step on one with a shoe on, you’d more likely just squish the little thing. Try that with an adult, however, and you’re likely on your way to the emergency room. I must say the babies seem a little more likely to be defensive right away, though you can’t blame them! Everything eats them. Snakes, raccoons, bobcats, all kinds of birds, even fish and invertebrates from time to time.
They do have rattles, visible right from the start, but they don’t make any sound until they get a second segment, which is after the second shed skin. At first, it just sounds like an insect, so don’t rely on the rattle to give warning.
If you do see a tiny baby rattlesnake, chances are it was born nearby. I say ‘born’ because rattlesnakes give live birth, and along with that, the mother may stay with the babies for a short period of time after. When we go on a call to remove a baby, and it looks ‘new’, we will always search the rest of the property to see if there is a little pile of babies sitting nearby with mom. When we find them, they all go together to a new place to figure out life away from people.
The good news: if you see a baby rattlesnake, it’s not really that big of a deal. Unlike older rattlesnakes, a baby is more or less just wandering around, trying to figure out how to carve out it’s own piece of the desert to live in. For that reason, they get themselves into a lot of places where a snake that knows better wouldn’t. We’ve removed babies from inside homes, in the garage, all kinds of pump control boxes and poolhouses, and in conditions that an older snake wouldn’t ever be caught out in.