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Why Rattle Snake?

M. Brock Fenton and Lawrence E. Licht
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 24, No. 3 (Sep., 1990), pp. 274-279
DOI: 10.2307/1564394
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1564394
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Why Rattle Snake?
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Abstract

A comparison of the acoustic characteristics (power spectra, intensity) of rattling sounds made by 13 rattlesnakes representing 6 species revealed that rattling conforms to the same general pattern. Although there was individual variation in lowest frequencies and bandwidths of the sounds, differences between species were comparable to within-species variation. The rattlings of the snakes were medium-intensity, broadband sounds (most energy from 2-20 kHz), with rapid onset and no structured changes in frequency pattern over time. In all of these features they resembled the rattling of mechanical rattles such as maracas. The rattling of snakes appears to be a signal designed to attract the attention of other animals whose responses will reflect their hearing characteristics and previous experience.

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