The Baby Rattlesnake Bite Debate

Which is more dangerous, a baby or an adult rattlesnake?

Before I was bitten, I had a heated debate with my mechanic about the dangers of baby rattlesnakes versus adult rattlesnakes.

Hello, adult snakes are bigger—that would mean bigger venom sacks—with a lot more venom. His argument was that baby snakes can’t control their venom output; in other words they don’t give dry bites.

Every time I spoke to my mechanic, he would be in possession of my car. He would also be in the process of calculating my invoice.

So, I bit my tongue more than once during "the baby rattlesnake debate."

One day he pulled some lame information off the Internet that stated baby rattlesnakes were considered more dangerous, because when they bite, they cannot control the amount of venom they release.

He held a printed copy in my face and said, “Here, this copy’s for you.” He placed the copy on top of my invoice and handed it to me. I took it with little emotion and reluctantly said, “Thanks.” I turned and walked away, rolling my eyes.

There are two problems with this “baby snake” argument.

First, I think we all know that people on the Internet don’t always have their facts correct.

Second, it wouldn’t matter if a baby rattlesnake released all the venom it had, it only carries a tiny amount in its tiny little venom sacks in its itsy-bitsy head.

Then, lo and behold, I was bitten—and at the same time I was enlightened on all things rattlesnake. My mechanic never saw me during my recovery and I never said a word. I’m too cheap to argue with him.

But now I’ve got the facts from the experts.

I read everything I could by Sean Bush and went straight to Harry Green, one of the world’s leading authorities on snakes, and this is what I learned:

When rattlesnakes are babies, they are too small to eat what adult snakes eat. An adult’s diet consists mainly of mammals like rodents. A baby rattlesnake eats mostly reptiles such as little lizards.

The baby rattler’s venom contains more neurotoxin than the adult’s, because reptiles react differently to adult rattlesnake venom.

Neurotoxins are more dangerous than cytotoxins, which make up most of an adult rattlesnake’s venom.

Therefore, baby rattlesnake venom may be slightly more toxic than adult venom. However, all snake experts agree that being bitten by an adult rattlesnake is far more dangerous than a bite from a baby rattlesnake.

For more information on rattlesnakes and gardening go to Gardeners Anonymous.

Next: What To Do If You Are Bitten By a Rattlesnake

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Arthur July 23, 2013 at 02:59 PM
There was a baby rattler reposing in the shade of the car this morning. The car's owner freaked out and came running back into the house. Much against her and the snake's wishes, I grabbed a broom and swept the thing off the drive. Since then, I've received 'advice' that I should have killed it with a flat shovel. What should I have done?
Ricardo Furioso July 24, 2013 at 11:52 AM
On the theory that my enemy's enemy is my friend, you did the right thing. Rattlesnakes eat lots of mice, rats, and other rodents who are worse than snakes. Chigiy prefers to relocate them lifting them with a long stout rake into a locking cooler and a nice drive in the back of the car to somewhere where they're unlikely to ever come in contact with us people.
Terri DuMonte Millard April 02, 2014 at 09:32 PM
Snakes produce their venom with glands, not sacks. And, please everyone, if you encounter a venomous snake, call a PROFESSIONAL to remove it. More bites occur when people are trying to kill or relocate a snake than by any other activity!
Ricardo Furioso April 03, 2014 at 01:13 AM
Well, OK. Then, logically, the bigger the snake the bigger the glands. Correct? And the bigger the glands, the worse the effect of the bite. Correct?


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