Q:

What eats rattlesnakes?

A:

Rattlesnakes are preyed upon by birds of prey, such as owls, eagles, hawks, ravens, crows and roadrunners, as well as foxes, coyotes, wild cats, badgers, feral pigs, jays, kingfishers, turkeys, shrikes and other snakes. Newborn rattlesnakes are especially susceptible to being hunted.

The common kingsnake is immune to the rattlesnake's venom, and the rattlesnake is a staple in its diet. A rattlesnake can smell when a kingsnake is near. When a kingsnake's presence is detected, rattlesnakes go into a defense mode called body bridging. This involves the rattlesnake lowering its head, bridging its back upwards, jerking around and using an elevated coil to strike at the kingsnake. This allows the rattlesnake to attack the predator while also protecting its head, which is the first part of the snake to be eaten.

When the rattlesnake senses other predators, it warns them to stay away by shaking its tail to make a rattling sound. Rattlesnakes are also capable of puffing their body up so that it looks bigger and more intimidating. In some cases, rattlesnakes can hide effectively because of their camouflage patterns. Rather than attacking, rattlesnakes sometimes remain extremely still until the predator leaves them alone or until they can sneak away to safety.


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