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End Rattlesnake Republic Now!

Friday, November 30, 2012

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

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Cameron said...

Why don't we start a show called,"Kitten Killers," where we follow a group of interesting people who just happen torture and abuse baby cats for profit? The film crew will follow these people around as they pour gasoline on innocent kittens, as they skin them alive, as they suture their jaws shut and spin them around by the tail.

When I was a little kid I watched documentaries on the Discovery Channel and a lot of them inspired me to become a scientist. Because I got to learn about animals, the past, and nature. Shows like RR are not informative, interesting or inspiring at all. How could anyone watch this and develop respect for anything, much less nature or animals? Who learns anything from this show about how incredible these reptiles are? Truly, they are evolutionary marvels... but RR is more concerned with exploiting their extirpation. No one is proud of what we did to the Plains Bison, or the Passenger Pigeon... why do we sensationalize the eradication of Rattlesnakes? I really wonder what the great naturalists would opine about this version of American culture. What would David Attenborough say about this? Or Muir? Or Cope?

Melissa Amarello said...

While we don't condone torturing kittens or any other animals, that might open people's eyes to how we feel about seeing snakes treated this way. Unfortunately, although you're right about bison and pigeons, I think many are proud of our extirpation of other predators and competitors (wolves, for example) - but again, no show on AP glorifying that.

I too have fond memories of watching Nova and similar show on PBS as a child and am sure that inspired me to go into science as well. Bummer how things have changed :-(

It would be nice to know what Attenborough thinks about RR - I wonder if he does any work with the Discovery channels?

ingrid said...

Melissa, I saw your comment at James McWilliams's blog. I've seen the stories about rattlesnake roundups and literally couldn't calm myself for days after the first time I saw images of their mouths sewn up. I always think I've seen the worst, and then human beings surprise me with even more sordid and cruel behavior. I don't have cable but know this is happening on so many channels that *used* to advocate for animals but which have now become sensationalist ratings mongers. I support wholeheartedly what you are doing! Sadly, there is so, so much suffering incurred by human ignorance and malice.

Cameron said...

I was only joking about the Kitten Killers show, but it would definitely open some eyes. You're right about wolves... it makes me glad I wasn't born with the wrong mix of testosterone and low-IQ to think killing predators made me tough.

I feel like I could start my own nature show, which would actually be about nature, and it would do okay. Bring back the good old days.

Melissa Amarello said...

Cameron - I know you were kidding, but I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea :-))

Ingrid - thanks for chiming in. It's so nice to have support from those outside the snake community (we get lonely sometimes).

Your an idiot said...

Your an idiot

FUCK YOU! said...


SnakeMan said...

You are so misguided.......and have no clue what any of this is about. True definition of a tree hugger, go join PETA, if you haven't joined this Whackos already.

Shae said...

Whoever voted to end Rattlesnake Republic is stupid. It's a AWESOME show and if you would go beyond the catching and killing them you would see the learning aspects of the show. Rattlesnakes are a VERY dangerous reptile and kill thousands of ppl a year. My opinion is to weed them all out so hunters can be somewhat safe in regards to the dangers of being bitten and dying in the woods.

Rob Pill said...

When. You see one in the yard where you kids play you will
Change your opinion.

David Steen said...

Where did you get the figure about thousands of people dying each year because of rattlesnake bites? Everything I've seen would indicate that the number is more like ten.

rickintexas said...

Pretty good show, the snakes are used for food and skins, pretty much the same as a cow. Only thing is rattlesnakes arent kept penned up for the most part

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