Help us end cruel rattlesnake roundups

The chattering of a rattlesnake’s tail, warning that you’re getting too close, is chilling to many people who aren’t snake fans. But rattlesnakes serve a critical ecological role, keeping rodent populations in check and controlling the spread of diseases.

The Western diamondback rattlesnake is the largest western rattlesnake, and the most harmed snake in rattlesnake roundups.

The Western diamondback rattlesnake is the largest western rattlesnake, and the most harmed snake in Texas rattlesnake roundups.

These reptiles are worthy of our respect and protection, yet they’re being driven from their dens, transported to “rattlesnake roundup” festivals, then slaughtered in a misguided effort to clear areas of these declining keystone predators. This spring, the Dallas Zoo’s reptile experts are taking a stand against these inhumane events.

“It’s senseless killing of these animals,” said Ruston Hartdegen, Dallas Zoo’s curator of herpetology. “More Americans are killed every year by dog bites, bee stings, and even lightning strikes than by rattlesnakes.”

Most states have outlawed rattlesnake roundups, but Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia continue to let these commercial events thrive.

Months before a festival, the rattlesnakes are flushed out of their dens with gasoline and other toxins, which hurt untargeted animals as well. They’re stored in large masses in inadequate conditions and arrive at roundup events starved and dehydrated.

“It’s a carnival atmosphere where people watch as the snakes are strung up alive, then decapitated and skinned, often with children helping,” Hartdegen said. “Roundup organizers promote the snakes to be dangerous, yet they’re teaching these kids irresponsible and potentially harmful behavior.”

In an effort to halt these cruel roundups, the Dallas Zoo is supporting the second annual Texas Rattlesnake Festival in Round Rock on April 11-12. It’s a no-kill festival created to celebrate, rather than destroy, misunderstood rattlesnakes. Dallas Zoo staff will have a booth set up with kid’s activities, and visitors can meet our reptile keepers and learn about rattlesnake conservation – and why these remarkable creatures matter.

“We ask our guests to take a stance and protect rattlesnakes by not supporting rattlesnake roundups,” Hartdegen said. “Rattlesnakes don’t have vocalizations, so they rattle to warn people to stay back. They may not be an animal that people traditionally empathize with, but they absolutely feel pain and deserve better treatment.”

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) also stands behind efforts to end the cruel and ecologically destructive practice of rattlesnake roundups, and encourages its member institutions to actively oppose such activity through public education and the support of legislation. The Dallas Zoo and other AZA-accredited zoological parks are committed to conservation and education about wild places and wild creatures.

For tips on snake safety, click HERE.

To learn more about the Texas Rattlesnake Festival, click HERE.

Categories: Conservation, Education, Reptiles and Amphibians | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Help us end cruel rattlesnake roundups

  1. Jan Macek

    I wish all zoos and citizens of the US would get behind this effort to promote kindness not only to rattlesnakes but to all snakes. Rattlesnake roundups have no redeeming or educational values. They teach young child to kill something that is so beneficial to our environment. Did you know that the venom of rattlesnakes are made into medicines to help humans? The very least we can do is to try to save them from torture, denigration and death that go along with the roundups. “If you talk with the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them, you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys.”
    Chief Dan George (1899-1981)

  2. Trisha haddad

    This breaks my heart. Please help support the Dallas Zoo, and end this cruelty.

  3. Johney buckly

    I have been bitten by a rattle snake and almost died. But I don’t blame him and I think the rattle snake round ups and killing of these misunderstood reptiles is cruel and should be illegal.

  4. Philip Easterly

    I’ll stand with the Dallas Zoo Anytime, l grew up there with the curator my uncle, Uncle Milford, they started my love for all snakes especially rattlers so let’s stop the slaughter NOW!!!

  5. Wonderful article. Thanks for the support for the festival.

  6. thanks for taking a stand – will see you at the festival!

  7. Suzanne Johnson

    Thank you, Dallas Zoo, for supporting an end to this horrible practice!

  8. Paul

    Don’t forget to check out the Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater March 11, 12 and 13th. Awesome fun. Can’t wait.

  9. Pingback: Operation saving horned lizards: A successful tagging season in West Texas | Dallas ZooHoo!

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