A western diamond-backed rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) with his mouth sewn shut for a rattlesnake roundup. Snakes are not under anesthesia during this painful procedure, but instead thrown in a freezer for awhile beforehand so they are too cold to move. Photo by Kim LaForest, courtesy of RARR.

Rattlesnake roundups make me sick. What’s a rattlesnake roundup, you ask? This page has a more thorough description, but in short, they are festivals in which rattlesnakes are tortured and killed in the most inhumane ways imaginable for entertainment and profit. Where do they get hundreds to thousands of rattlesnakes for these events? They are abducted from their overwintering hibernacula (dens) in the spring and held for days to weeks without food and water. Yep, from dens – where snakes hang out with their friends, family, give birth, and take care of their and their neighbors’ kids.

What makes me REALLY angry is that Animal Planet has a show that glorifies the humans that collect rattlesnakes for these horrific events. Yep, Animal Planet. Does that make sense to you? If not, LET THEM KNOW. Animal Planet is soliciting comments about Rattlesnake Republic, probably because I and many others have expressed our disbelief and disappointment that they air this trash. Please visit their website and let them know (POLITELY) what you think about Animal Planet airing a show that glorifies the torturing and killing of animals for profit.

Here’s the comment I left on their site (feel free to use any of it!):

You state that “The series is intended to introduce the real individuals who choose to live among the dangerous world of rattlesnakes.” First, the world of rattlesnakes is only dangerous for rattlesnakes and their prey. Second, these individuals that exploit rattlesnakes for profit are hardly living in their world – they are removing rattlesnakes from their world and bringing them into the human world to be tortured and killed for entertainment (and nothing else).

There are many of us that really do live in the rattlesnakes’ world – we spend time in this beautiful and peaceful place so that we can know more about their lives and share that knowledge with others in order to promote the conservation of rattlesnakes. Why not have a series that introduces those individuals?

Most people view Animal Planet as an educational channel and Rattlesnake Republic teaches them that this misunderstood group of animals is dangerous and should be exploited for profit. Is that really the message Animal Planet wishes to send?

In the US, there are relatively few human bites from rattlesnakes (and most of those are to humans who chose to handle them) and almost no deaths. Here in Arizona, we have more rattlesnakes than any other state and roundups have been banned for more than 30 years, yet their numbers have never posed a danger to humans or other animals. There is no legitimate reason to ‘control’ rattlesnake populations, especially by these horrific roundups.

What rattlesnakes do need is some good PR for a change. Did you know that rattlesnakes are social? Rattlesnakes are choosy about which individuals they associate with and avoid others. Rattlesnakes give birth to live young and care for their kids for at least the first couple weeks of their lives. Sometimes they will take care of their neighbors’ kids as well.

This is the sort of information an animal lover would expect to see on Animal Planet, not the glorification of animal killers, which is what Rattlesnake Republic is all about.

Melissa Amarello
www.socialsnakes.org

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