Will Rattlesnakes Chase You If Threatened? Watch One Man Find Out Once and For All

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Written by Angie Menjivar

Updated: November 9, 2023

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Closeup of a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).
© Audrey Snider-Bell/Shutterstock.com

Seeing is believing. Sometimes, to dispel myths, experts have to show examples of wildlife behavior. The rattlesnake expert in the video at the bottom of the page donates his time to put a video together showing you what happens when a rattlesnake feels threatened.

What Are Rattlesnakes?

Rattlesnakes are reptiles that have triangular heads and hefty bodies. They’re venomous snakes, meaning their bites may inject venom that requires immediate medical treatment. Their name comes from the rattle sound their tails make, which is characteristic of these snakes. Other snakes mimic the tail movements of rattlesnakes, but true rattlesnakes have a physical rattle that makes a distinctive sound. There are different types of rattlesnakes, each with its own habitat. Some of the areas they inhabit include South America, Central America, Mexico, and nearly every region in the continental U.S.

Mojave Rattler

An adult Mojave rattlesnake in a defensive stance.

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Are Rattlesnakes Aggressive?

Rattlesnakes aren’t exactly out for blood, though someone who fears them may feel as though they are. Unless they’re hunting, they don’t display aggression. They are generally not aggressive toward humans and if there’s an encounter, they prefer to retreat. However, rattlesnakes do defend themselves if encroached upon and provoked and at that point, they may strike. The rattle is a good sign, however, that you’ve ventured too close and should be on your way. Often rattlesnake bites occur when someone accidentally steps on one. The rattlesnake responds by biting the threat, which may mean an ankle or foot.

Man Approaches 50 Rattlesnakes

The video below was taken by Rattlesnake Solutions and as soon as it starts, Bryan D. Hughes explains he’s waiting over by a rattlesnake den. He’s going to see if they do something interesting. He’s out to dispel the myth that rattlesnakes are aggressive. He goes on to explain that people have a belief that rattlesnakes chase humans. He wants to show the true nature of rattlesnakes, so he goes out to approach 50 rattlers to see how they respond to his presence. He does give a warning that this is not something you should try at home; he’s an expert who knows how to handle these situations.

The first rattlesnake he approaches is a Mojave rattlesnake. It’s nighttime and he’s shining a flashlight on it. As he approaches, it strikes and rattles. Does it chase him? No. The second one is a western diamondback rattlesnake. He taps it with his snake tongs and all it does is coil. Instead of slithering toward him, it tries to get away. The third and fourth are western diamondbacks and both respond by coiling and trying to get away. Watch through the end to see how each individual snake responds to his presence!

How Large are Adult Rattlesnakes?

Large eastern diamondback rattlesnake

The largest eastern diamondback on record was 96 inches.

©Chase D’animulls/Shutterstock.com

There are 36 known species of rattlesnakes, which are then broken down into an additional 65 to 70 additional subspecies, found throughout the Americas. Of the currently recognized species, the largest one is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. This heavy-bodied snake can weigh between and have lengths of between 33 to 72 inches long, and average weights of two to four pounds, although some can weigh ten pounds. The largest eastern diamondback on record was 96 inches.

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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