Rattlesnake Roundups: Animal Cruelty Towards a Misunderstood Creature
In the Midwest and Southern states, rattlesnakes are the victims of animal cruelty by being forced to participate in "rattlesnake roundups". Learn about these cruel festivities below!Published October 12, 2012
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Many people may find rattlesnakes fascinating, but the majority of folks are extremely fearful of these venomous snakes. In fact, rattlesnakes are considered to be one of the most terrifying predatory animal species inhabiting our planet.
Although these snakes have the reputation of being aggressive and deadly, rattlesnakes are actually highly misunderstood creatures. In reality, the threat they pose to humans is highly exaggerated. Rattlesnakes avoid humans whenever possible and when feeling threatened they telegraph warnings using their unforgettable “rattling” sound. They strike out at perceived enemies only when escape is not an option. They hunt at night and prefer hiding out of sight during the day.
Rattlesnakes are extremely unique in many ways and deserve admiration more than the terror they engender. Their magnificently marked skins are truly eye-candy for snake devotees. This species of pit vipers are part of a small group of animals that see with dual visual systems and can detect infrared images with the sensory organs in their upper jaws. These amazing critters can ferret out the heat of a candle flame from a distance of 30 feet. Their venom (toxic saliva) is extremely complex and is delivered (when necessary) with fangs that strongly resemble hypodermic syringes.
But instead of learning how to better co-exist with these beautiful animals, there are groups of people who actively persecute them. One of the more “popular” and thrilling methods of getting rid of rattlesnakes are “rattlesnake roundups”, otherwise known as “rattlesnake rodeos”.
Many of these festivals are held commonly in annual events in the Midwest and Southern states in the country. The largest roundup is The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup in Texas which is held every year during the second weekend of March.
The main attractions are generally captured wild rattlesnakes which are then put up for display, sold, or slaughtered for their meat.
Thousands of these critters are pulled from their dens by collectors around the country and are doused with gasoline or other toxic chemicals and then transported to roundups without food or water. They arrive at their destination starved, frightened or even crushed. According to the Humane Society of the United States, some rattlesnakes are decapitated and served up as treats. Included on advertisements touting the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup is the reminder, “Don't forget to try some deep-fried Western Diamondback Rattlesnake meat.”
Not only are these roundups bad for the snakes, they put spectators at risk of being bitten and infected with salmonella from consuming contaminated snake meat.
But what makes rattlesnake roundups all the more outrageous is the negative impact they have on the environment. Superb predators, rattlesnakes’ main prey are rats, mice and other rodents that carry serious disease. These small mammals also cause huge damage to plant life.
While rattlesnakes are certainly not meant to be cuddly pets, they are extremely valuable to our environment. In this writer’s opinion, they do not deserve the wanton cruelty and horrific treatment they receive in these inhumane events that some people consider exciting and festive. Not purposely threatening, rattlesnakes should be respected, and not thought of as the heinous villains they are portrayed to be.
What is your opinion about rattlesnake roundups? Share your thoughts in a comment.