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If you are a venomous keeper maintaining one or more rattlesnakes, you might be tired of the noise. Most animals calm down rapidly in captivity and become accustomed to humans moving around their cages, but some do not.
A fast, through-the-mesh solution is a quick spray of water or glycerine directed at the offending rattle. A soggy rattle is a muted rattle. This solution has worked fairly well for me with my gravid and perpetually pissed-off female canebrake (Crotalus horridus), and afforded a lower level of noise for me when I work in my snake room.
A longer term but riskier solution is to go ahead and tube-catch or pin the animal, and slap a piece of Scotch tape along one side of the rattle. This is harmless to the snake, as the tail end is made of keratin like our hair and fingernails and they can't feel it. But it does mute the rattle quite effectively. Don't do this trick with a prize specimen with a very long string of rattles that you care about keeping, as it could render the rattle more vulnerable to natural breakage.
You can't always tell whether a rattlesnake was photographed or filmed in the wild or in captivity, but there is one dead giveaway that is a pretty strong clue that the snake is a long term captive specimen and probably somebody's pet.
If the snake has a very long string of rattles (more than 7 or 8), chances are good that this snake lives a cushy captive life in a cage. Snakes in the wild break rattles all the time while wandering over natural obstacles. There are exceptions, and rattlesnakes have been found in the wild with very long strings indeed. But it's a lot more common and easy for a captive rattler to grow a tail of prodigious length.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|