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How fast are rattlesnakes? (Includes Strike Speed)

how fast are rattlesnakes
How fast can a rattlesnake move?

Have you ever wondered how fast a rattlesnake can move? Can you outrun one? How about their strike? Find out in this article as it is all about a rattlesnake’s speed.

How fast do rattlesnakes move? Can you outrun them?

northern pacific rattlesnake
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

The average human can run at 10 – 15 mph (16 – 24 kph), which is plenty fast enough to outrun the average rattlesnake, which can only manage 2 – 3 mph (3.2 – 4.8 kph). As long as you’re aware of a rattlesnake’s presence and keep a safe distance, you should be able to outrun one easily.

How fast is a rattlesnake strike?

You may be able to outrun a rattlesnake, but you can’t escape their strike. A study at The University of Louisiana, Lafayette, found that a snake can lunge forward, covering 30 cm (12 in) at 70 milliseconds. At speed, so fast animals and humans have little time to react. Rattlesnakes have to be able to strike this fast as their prey are quick and agile.

Do you know how close you must be to a rattlesnake to be within strike distance?

The answer depends on the snake’s length, as it can strike up to half its body length. So a snake that is 1.8 m (6 ft) long can only strike up to 0.9 m (3 ft).

How do rattlesnakes move?

Snake on the beach.
Snake on the beach.

Snakes have four different locomotion methods.

Serpentine locomotion is the most common way rattlesnakes move. In serpentine locomotion, the snake moves its body in a wave-like manner, with the muscles on the underside of the snake contracting and relaxing in a rhythmic pattern.

This causes the snake’s body to move in undulating waves, propelling it forward. The snake’s body remains in close contact with the ground at all times, which allows it to maintain stability and traction.

The second movement is called concertina, where they move in a compact, folded manner. In concertina movement, the snake folds its body into a series of tight loops or S-shaped curves, similar to the accordion-like folds of a concertina.

The snake then moves forward by extending and contracting its body, with the leading edge of the body anchoring itself in place while the rest of the body moves forward.

Rectilinear is another way they move. The snake moves its body more rigidly and straightforwardly, remaining relatively straight and parallel to the ground. The biggest rattlesnakes, like the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, use this method.

Snake in Kgalagadi Transfrontier park South Africa
Snake in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa moving in a rectilinear fashion.

And finally, sidewinding is used by rattlesnakes that allow them to move across loose or slippery surfaces, such as sand. It is called “sidewinding” because the snake appears to be moving sideways rather than forward.

In sidewinding, the snake lifts and moves its body in a series of short arcs, creating a wave-like motion that propels it forward. The snake’s body remains in contact with the ground at all times, which helps it maintain stability and traction on loose or slippery surfaces.

The snake’s tail is used to create friction and push the body forward while the rest of the snake moves in a series of arcs.

Do rattlesnakes strike above the knee?

Rattlesnakes can strike at any part of a person’s body that is within their striking range. This means that a rattlesnake could strike above the knee if the person is close enough.

However, most rattlesnake strikes occur at or below the knee, as this area is most likely to come into contact with the snake when a person is walking or hiking in a rattlesnake habitat.

Do rattlesnakes jump at you?

Rattlesnakes are not capable of jumping at you. What may look like a jump is actually a fast lunge forward. They do this from a coiled-up position.

Will a rattlesnake chase you?

rattlesnake hiding under rock
Rattlesnake hiding under rock.

Rattlesnakes are shy animals and do not chase people. They will avoid contact with humans as much as possible. If you encounter a rattlesnake, it will do its best to escape or hide.

However, if a rattlesnake feels threatened, it may become defensive and strike to protect itself. So it’s essential to be cautious and avoid getting too close to a rattlesnake, as they can be dangerous if they feel threatened. Typically you will get a warning if you are too close, as they will rattle tails in anger.

What rattlesnake kills the most humans?

There are 33 species of rattlesnakes found from Argentina to southern Canada. It is unclear which rattlesnake kills the most people yearly, but the authorities know it belongs to the eastern diamondback rattlesnake or western diamondback rattlesnake.