A Rattlesnake Looks Even More Deadly in Slow Motion

By Sam Gibbs on at

Rattlesnakes, especially the diamondback, are some of the most lethal animals in the world. They're also frighteningly cool, with that unique rattle at the end of their tails that lets you know they're there and could kill you. But how exactly do they make that distinctive rattle sound? Slow motion explains.

The BBC's Earth Unplugged team used a Photron BC2 high speed camera, blasting away at 2000 frames per second, to study the movements of a diamonback's tail. They found that instead of a the usual sinusoidal, wave-like motion you'd normally associate with a snake, the tail is shaken in a kind of pulsating up and down movement, smashing the little keratin modules together.

The snake does this at around 60 shakes a second, which is way too fast for the human eye to appreciate. The BBC used a Sigma 105mm macro, and a couple of different Nikon prime lenses to get the shots you see in the video above. Apparently they settled on the snake in a travel box, after trying to film it in a tube and slithering freely around the studio too. Can't say I'd fancy trying to shoot the thing loose around me, but it resulted in some absolutely stunning images.

Check out the video above, and then the making of below to see exactly how they shot it.