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All 10 Snakes That Rattle (A to Z List) – with Pictures

Many snake species rattle their tails, including some species without a physical rattle on their tail. Some well-known rattling snakes include Bull Snakes, Copperheads, Cottonmouths, Gophers, and King Snakes.

Rattlesnake rattling

But why do they do this? And more importantly, what other snake species do the rattle? Read on to find out.

Examples of Snakes That Rattle

1. Bull Snakes

Bull snakes are easy to handle, so they are popular with pet owners.

They are typically reddish-brown, and they resemble a rattlesnake. It is a subspecies of the gopher, and it can grow up to eight feet.

Apart from vibrating its tail, the bull snake makes loud hiss to ward off predators. It may also bite. Because of their color, people often mistake them for a rattlesnake.

bullsnake
Bullsnake

Related Article: Can you eat a Poisonous Snake?

2. Bushmasters

The bushmaster holds the title of the longest venomous snake in the New World of snake species. Of course, the cobra is longer, but it is Old World. 

The bushmaster can grow up to six feet, and there are three species of it. They are often reddish-brown, and they have a diamond pattern on their back.

They are highly venomous. The bushmaster is a master of survival, as they can survive on less than ten large meals in a year. 

Bushmaster Snake
Bushmaster pit viper

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3. Cantils

Cantils are typically brown or black. They are highly venomous, and they are also part of the viper family. 

Cantils are under the classification Near Threatened. This snake is shy and would typically hide before confronting a threat. 

If the threat comes nearer, it will vibrate its tail. The sound it makes is like a whipping sound. They only vibrate their tail if they do not have any other choice against a predator or a threat.

Cantils Viper
Cantils Pit Viper

See Also: Black Snake Symbolic Meanings

4. Copperhead

The copperhead is a pit viper that has no rattle but can vibrate its tail. It is endemic to North America, and it has five subspecies. 

They grow up to 37 inches, and their bodies are generally stout or big for their size. They hunt at night during summer. Unlike many vipers, the copperhead freezes when confronted, and then they bite. 

However, they vibrate their tails if someone approaches them closely. They can vibrate their tails 40 times per second. 

copperhead
Copperhead

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5. Corn snakes

The corn snake is a popular snake for snake owners because it’s safe to handle and has bright red coloring. Unfortunately, it looks like a copperhead, so many people in the wild think it is venomous even if it is not. 

Corn snakes are beneficial to humans as they eat mice and pests that damage crops. In populated areas, they are usually found in granaries and corn storage barns, which is why they go that name. 

corn snake
Corn Snake

Related Article: Are Snakes Secondary Consumers?

6. Cottonmouth

The cottonmouth is a venomous snake that belongs to the viper family.

Many people also refer to it as water moccasin. It opens its mouth when threatened, and the inside of its mouth is white like cotton.

It is a capable swimmer, and the males can grow more than 31 inches. Like other vipers, they have a heat-sensing organ, which helps them detect prey. They have no rattles, but they vibrate their tails. 

Read More: Can Snakes Swim Underwater?

A corronmouth snake in the water
Cottonmouth

7. Gopher snakes

The gopher snake is a colubrid snake. It is non-venomous and is native to North America.

The gopher snake can grow up to seven feet, and the hatchlings are generally long, some of which hatched at 21 inches.

At the outset, they look like rattlesnakes. When under threat, it coils its body in a nested pattern and then raises its head a little. Then, it vibrates its tail.

Gopher Snake

Related Article: What Do Gopher Snakes Eat?

8. Kingsnakes

Kingsnakes are called so because their primary diet is other snakes. They are not venomous, yet they can attack and kill venomous snakes like cobras and rattlesnakes. 

There are many subspecies of kingsnakes, and they come in many colors. They vibrate their tails if threatened.

Mexican Black Kingsnake
Kingsnakes

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9. Rat snakes

Rat snakes are a type of kingsnake. They are colubrids that make for docile pets.

Although it is long believed that they are non-venomous, rat snakes have small amounts of venom, but not enough to hurt humans. 

There are many species of rat snake, and the most popular is the Eastern rat snake. A black rat snake will coil itself when under threat and shake its tail rapidly. 

rat snake
Rat Snake

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10. Terciopelos

The terciopelos snake is from the viper family, and it is extremely venomous. It has a diverse range of habitats in the world. It can grow up to seven feet long. 

As far as diet is concerned, it is a generalist that hunts a wide range of animals. There are even reports of cannibalism. Some of them eat insects. They also scavenge dead frogs and rats.

Viper
Tericopelo Viper

Read Also: 16 Snakes That Are Extinct and Critically Endangered

What is the Record Number of Rattles on a Rattlesnake?

Contrary to popular belief, one cannot determine the age of a rattlesnake by counting its rattles. It is not true because snakes that have rattles also shed their rattles over some time. 

So far, the snake that has the most number of rattles had 20 of them. The snake was five and a half feet long, and it was a timber rattlesnake. 

Why do Snakes Rattle their Tails?

Tail vibration is a common behavior among many snakes. They do this to ward off predators. It is a defense mechanism, and they expect the predator to get scared. Some say that the vibration may have preceded the development of the rattle

Years of study conclude that the speed of the vibration has something to do with temperature. If the snake is warm, it will rattle its tail faster. Rattlesnakes can vibrate their tails 90 times a second. 

Conclusion

It is not only the rattlesnake that shakes its tail. There are many species of vipers and colubrids that do the same when under threat, albeit they have no rattle. 

Tail vibration is a defense mechanism that wards of prey. Scientists surmise that it is a behavior that preceded the evolution of the rattle. 

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