It’s an old black-and-white Western movie staple. Our cowboy hero is walking alone in the desert; he collapses in exhaustion, suddenly, he hears a sound. It’s the terrifying buzzing noise of a deadly rattlesnake.

Rattlesnakes are probably one of the most iconic snakes in the animal kingdom, thanks in part to how they are a Hollywood movie staple. But did you know that rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive?

They only strike when provoked; they shake their tails at threats first to warn them to stay away.

I’m sure you’ve always wondered, how do rattlesnakes make those rattle sounds? What’s inside the rattle itself?

Would you believe there’s no loose particle ping-ponging inside a rattlesnake’s tail like a baby rattle would?

The sound comes from loosely packed keratin plates, yup, the same keratin that makes up hair and fingernails. These pieces make an audible sound when the rattlesnake shakes its tail, and the keratin chunks rub together.

The inside of a rattle is hollow. The sound produced is just amplified sound constructed and tends to echo from within, amplifying the rattle’s sound and audacity.

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