Tuesday, April 21, 2020

R is for Rattlesnakes (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Massasauga rattlesnake

: Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus), Arizona black rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus)

Status: Threatened, listed as Endangered is some states of the USA

How the rattlesnake got its fangs 
Akimel Oʼotham ("Pima") and Tohono O'odham ("Papago") legend*

According to legend, when the Creator (Elder Brother) created the rattlesnake, it was very beautiful (as it still is), but it didn't have anything to protect itself with. When people appeared, they played with the beautiful snakes, rolling them into balls, or twisting them around their neck like a scarf. Poor rattlesnake was sore and bruised. It went to the Creator to complain, and Elder Brother put fangs into the snake's mouth. The next person to try to play with it got bitten and died from the venom. EVer since then, Rattlesnake has had a way to defend itself. 
In another version of the story, it was the other animals that kept poking at Rattlesnake, because they liked to hear him rattle. They called him Soft Child (Maik Solath) because his movements were so soft. Rattlesnake went to Elder Brother to complain, and the Creator pulled out a piece of his hair and put fangs into the snake's mouth. Next time Rabbit tried to poke at him, Rattlesnake bit him. Rabbit was the first creature in the world to die. The animals, in order to burn his body, also had to learn how to make fire.

* "Pima" and "Papago" as names are not in use anymore, I included them as clarification.

Sources: Read the story here, here, or here. Read a picture book version here. Read more about indigenous snake lore here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here, here, or here.

Arizona black rattlesnake (image from here)


  1. How mean. No wonder poor rattlesnake wanted some protection!

  2. I had no idea the rattle snake was endangered. I've only ever really seen them on Westerns were cowboys are always shooting at them.
    Tasha 💖
    Virginia's Parlour - The Manor (Adult concepts - nothing explicit in posts)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Vampire Drabbles

  3. Both the stories make me look at rattlesnakes in new (softer) light.

  4. Good to know the poor snake got a means of self defence!

  5. In my 60+ years of living in areas with rattle snakes I have never seen a single one, nor heard one, even camping and hiking in their hills! They would rather hide. My kind isn't this one though, it's the Western rattlesnake.

  6. They certainly are beautiful and I can see that it would be fun for the animals to hear them rattle! But nice that in the story they're not villains but just defending themselves.
    Black and White (Words and Pictures)

  7. I've always respected rattlesnakes for their warning before fanging capabilities. I love the idea the fangs are a hair from Creator.

  8. Do not want to hear their warning it means you are too close. We had rattlers by our home when our children were little not fun...
    The Letter R

  9. It is a gorgeous looking snake. I'm glad that rattlesnakes were giving rattles to warn also.

  10. Everybody needs protection of some sort! That'll teach them not to meddle with rattlesnakes.

  11. I am sad that the rattlesnake is endangered ...poor rattler he just wants to be left alone.

  12. What a strange story. I mean, isn't it unusual that it basically tells how a weapon was created and how it is put in a positive way?
    And on the other way, I appreciate the story of the bulling that finally gets aganced.
    Strange story.

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties