What is More Dangerous – a Baby or an Adult Rattlesnake?

What is More Dangerous – a Baby or an Adult Rattlesnake?

So, we have heard more than once over the years that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adult rattlesnakes. And, seeing a live baby rattlesnake in the driveway of my father’s suburban house recently has sparked my interest to find out more!

Baby Western Rattlesnake in the driveway

The reason it is believed these youngsters are more dangerous is because people think that when they bite, they cannot control the amount of venom they release, and will inject all of their venom at once. Compare this to the theory that an adult rattlesnake is more experienced and won’t “waste” venom or will administer a “dry” bite without any venom.

However, even if this were true, if a baby rattlesnake releases ALL its venom – it is still a small amount from its small venom sacks. (See this related article.)

Compare this to an adult rattlesnake which is larger with larger venom sacks containing a lot more venom. Even if the adult only injects a small percentage of its total venom, it is still more than all of the venom from the baby snake.

This means that a defensive bite from an adult could be significantly more severe than that of a young rattlesnake.  See this article in Bay Nature.

Either way, “Myth” or “Fact” about which is more dangerous, avoiding a bite from any size rattlesnake is the goal! Be aware of your surroundings in rattlesnake areas – especially when you least expect it – like on your driveway.

Close-ups of the baby Western Rattlesnake exhibiting just 2 buttons on its rattle.

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