Zoo Zone

June 14, 2000

What's for dinner?

Rattlesnakes eat small mammals and birds.


The rattlesnake uses its eyes, a forked tongue, and pit organs (special organs that can sense temperature changes) to find food...even in the dark! Once prey is discovered, the rattlesnake will strike with large fangs like needles, injecting venom into its prey to kill it. (The snake even has a spare set of fangs in case the first set breaks!) The snake's rattle, used to warn predators, is made of hard sections of old skin.

Do you know?

What is the difference between venomous and poisonous?

Answer: Snakes are venomous because they inject toxins into their prey to kill them. Poison is swallowed.

Learn more!

Visit the mottled rock and red pygmy rattlesnakes at The Baltimore Zoo Reptile House.

Wild facts

1. There are 30 kinds of rattlesnakes in North and South America.

2. Timber rattlesnakes and copperheads are the only venomous snakes in Maryland.

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