Rattlesnake Experts Shoot Down Biggest Snake Myths Ahead of Arizona’s Peak Season

by Chris Haney

Recently, a local Arizona outlet spoke with a rattlesnake expert as he gave advice for residents ahead of the state’s peak season for encounters. It’s that time of year where baby rattlesnakes are starting to venture out on their own, and the news station is trying to educate the public on the reptiles while clearing up some common misconceptions about the animals.

For adult rattlesnakes in Arizona, August is breeding season as the reptiles are out looking for mates. That means that come October, baby rattlesnakes are setting out on their own away from their mothers. Within just a month or two, a baby rattlesnake is ready to venture out and gather its own food.

Although there’s an increase in rattlesnake activity at this time of year, they’re still a rare sight. Most Arizona residents will go their entire life without encountering a rattlesnake. Therefore most people don’t know how to react in the rare occasion that they do spot them in the wild.

Local Phoenix outlet 12 News spoke with rattlesnake expert and Phoenix Herpetological Society’s venom manager Cale Morris about the reptiles. He and other experts say the worst thing locals can do if they come across one is to attack them. That’s when they feel threatened and will get aggressive defending themselves.

“If you just keep away from them, step back, and give them space, they move on,” Morris explained to 12 News. “A lot of the encounters when it goes bad is when people try and throw rocks at them or take sticks and literally try to kill them. That’s when it gets dangerous and people get bit because the snake feels threatened.”

@phoenixherp OMG LOOK AT ALL THE BABIES ! Yes this species gives live birth😍😍😍 #cool #venomous #snake ♬ Old Disney Swing Jazz – Nico

Expert Explains Why We Have Less to Fear From a Baby Rattlesnake

The rattlesnake expert is also shutting down another common myth, which is that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adults. We’ve all heard it before, that young snakes have more venom in their bites as part of nature’s way of helping them survive as babies. According to Morris, that’s not the case.

Although there is a higher number of baby rattlesnakes roaming around the area this season, the danger to residents is actually far less. Since young rattlesnakes have much smaller venom glands than adults, their bites are less harmful. They immediately have full control of their venom and bite when they’re born. However, a baby still doesn’t pose the same threat as a full-grown adult.

“We’ve never documented a human death from a baby rattlesnake,” Morris said. “For human deaths, it’s always an adult rattlesnake.”

Morris says the reptile sanctuary frequently gets asked similar questions about rattlesnakes. For the last 21 years, Phoenix Herpetological Society’ mission has been to educate the public about the facts about Arizona’s reptiles.

With the help of social media platform TikTok, the group is spreading its message even further. Their educational videos are now reaching far beyond their home state as their TikTok account has more than one million followers.