In many parts of North America it’s rattlesnake season. And while they are most often found in deserts, scrubland, and plains, they do occupy a variety of habitats that also includes forests and swamps. Clearly they are adaptable.

Photo Credit – J.N. Stuart

Rattlesnakes have that signature rattle to warn people to stay away. They make the sound by shaking their tails which causes the hard scales inside the tip to bang together. Those scales are made out of keratin, the same thing as human nails and hair. And, the number of scales increases as the snake ages.

What’s especially interesting about a rattlesnake’s rattle is that it can vary the frequency of the sound to make it seem like the snake is closer than it really is. It does this by shaking it’s tail up to 90 times per second. One study revealed that the frequency changes when someone is about 13 feet away. The change fools the approaching person and helps the snake keep a safe perimeter around them. This amazing adaptation actually helps both the snake and people. The snake doesn’t get trampled and the person doesn’t get bitten. Personally, I appreciate the warning!