No Way! Watch a Rattlesnake Climb a Tree

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Close Up
© iStock.com/Wide-River-Rick

Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: October 18, 2023

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Forget whatever you have been told about rattlesnakes climbing trees because here’s proof they do! These amazing snakes can and do climb trees and some of them are quite good at it! In this conclusive footage, provided by a rattlesnake expert, we see a western diamondback rattlesnake climbing quite high up a tree.

Check Out The Whole Video Below!

Western diamondbacks are found in the southwestern United States and like to live in desert and semi-desert locations. They are currently not endangered and have a stable population, however, they do face some threats due to a loss of their habitat. This rattlesnake looks dull rather than shiny and has alternating black and white or gray bands at the end of its body which ends with the infamous rattle.

They use their venomous bite for defense and for getting food – these snakes typically eat small mammals and are therefore useful for rodent control. They will not pick a fight with a human, they would rather hide away and this is exactly what has happened in this footage.

The cameraman has accidentally disturbed a rattlesnake and instead of hiding away under a rock, it has decided to slither up a tree. We can see the snake making slow but steady progress and it is very well camouflaged amongst the leaves and bark. The truth is that rattlesnakes are very often found in trees but because they are so well hidden, and humans don’t spend a lot of time in trees (or staring up at the branches), we don’t realize that they are there!

So how good at climbing are rattlesnakes? Could they climb up your walls and in through your windows? Even though these amazing snakes can climb, they need a rough surface with plenty of ‘footholds’ to get a grip. This makes a tree with rough bark and lots of branches ideal. However, they could not easily scale your block wall and get into your yard or house that way. There are plenty of snakes that are much better at climbing including the gophersnake, kingsnake, or coachwhip. Kingsnakes can climb almost vertical rocks with no problem!

Rattlesnakes don’t just climb trees to get away from humans. They also do it to escape from floodwaters and to hunt prey. Squirrels and birds live in trees and rattlesnakes are rather partial to both!

The final concern for hikers in wooded areas is whether rattlesnakes can fall out of trees onto your head. In theory, this could happen but the chances are very remote. Once the snake hears you coming, they will very likely freeze in a safe position until you have passed by. You are much more likely to encounter one on the path in front of you than falling on your head!

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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