Scales and Tales


The Internet Such a Resource!?

Sometimes the internet is a great source of information and is like the National Enquirer. If you are not intimately involved in a particular area of study it can be pretty hard to know the difference when reading things online or seeing them on TV. To make matters more complicated, most of us (me included) tend to be pretty trusting anyway. When it comes to reptiles and amphibians, you can count on the staff at Reptile Gardens for the true facts, no sensational tabloid-style lies or exaggerations from us.

The infamous "giant" rattlesnakeThe infamous "giant" rattlesnake

We have all seen the viral photo below, or something like it, haven't we? Our staff gets sensational reptile photos sent to us on a regular basis, so we want to address some of the over the coming months. Today, it's time to talk about GIANT RATTLESNAKES!

Giant Snake Caught!

Each time we see this photo, the snake gets bigger and the story more fanciful. It is 8 feet long, it is 9 feet long, it is 10 feet long, it weighs 50 pounds, it weighs 75 pounds, it weighs 100 pounds. The simple answer here is that no one has EVER reliably recorded a rattlesnake 8 feet long. For as long as there have been reptile researchers and herpetologists, and for as long as records have been kept, there have been NO credible reports or actual measured specimens of that size. An 8-foot rattlesnake of any species would be a world record. In spite of what one may hear about species like the prairie rattler or timber rattler, there are only two, maybe three, species that could even come close to growing that big (Western Diamondback - Crotalus, atrox; Eastern Diamondback - Crotalus adamanteus; Mexican West Coast - Crotalus basiliscus).

OK, I will just make an 8 foot rattlesnake

A number of years ago, a friend of ours tried to raise a genuine 8-foot rattlesnake. He picked newborn babies from especially large mothers. He then devised a very intensive (and unnatural) feeding regimen. In the end he got some of the hugest, most obese rattlesnakes I have ever seen...but he never got an 8-foot snake. He ultimately gave up and gave all the snakes to us.

WANTED: 8 Foot Rattlesnake - Reward!

Since the mid-1950's, here at Reptile Gardens we have offered a reward for an 8-foot rattlesnake. We have regularly increased the dollar amount as the years have gone by. Never once, in almost 60 years, has anyone brought in a rattlesnake that came even close to 8 feet long. Oh, believe me, we get calls all the time. I once talked to a woman in North Carolina who wanted to know "how many of them 8 foot rattlers" we wanted before she sent "the boys out to fetch" them. I told her to just get us one to start with and we could negotiate on more. We never heard from her - or any of our many other callers - again. And they certainly never showed up with one.

The Real Story

Forced perspectiveForced perspective

So, what is the story of the obviously large snake in this particular photo? Well folks, it is all a matter of perspective, actually what is called "forced perspective". If you shoot a photo with a long lens, staged properly (and at the proper angle) you can get all kinds of great results. To show you how easy this is, we shot the photo on the left yesterday in our parking lot. No Photoshop here, just forced perspective.

Yes, the snake in the photo is big - a nice big Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) probably around 5 feet long. It weighs maybe 10 pounds. So it isn't anywhere near as big as claimed but it is a formidable rattlesnake to be sure. We have had many over the years of this same size.

So having said all this, I will extend our offer once again: If any of you out there have one of these 8 or 9 foot rattlesnakes on hand, bring it by. We'd love to have it. If it is over 8 feet long, delivered live and in good condition, we'll give you $25,000 for it!

And by the way, do have a look at our other rewards. Who knows, you might just have one of these other giants in your backyard that you just don't know what to do with now that it has outgrown your aquarium or bathtub!




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Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing or go on a 3D safari. Our very own old west ghost town as numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!