How Many Times a Year do Rattlesnakes Lay Eggs?

All animals reproduce in some way, but have you ever thought about how often rattlesnake lay their eggs? I will explain not only how often they do but how they do and other questions throughout this article.

How many times a year do rattlesnakes lay eggs? Rattlesnakes are ovoviviparous reptiles and give birth every 2 years to babies. Rattlesnakes do not lay eggs. They carry the eggs inside of them and give birth to live young.

I personally never knew that rattlesnakes don’t lay eggs but learning this made me want to learn more. So after some research, I discovered the process of birthing baby rattlesnakes, the life cycle of rattlesnakes, and lots more. 

The Process of Birthing New Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes are one of the most well-known snakes in the Americas. I remember hearing about them from a young age and how dangerous they are. From their poisonous fangs to rattling tails that gave them their name, they are a very interesting and intimidating reptile.

Like any animal, they have a mating season. The mating season starts to occur when adult rattlesnakes come out from hibernation, which is about April or May. This may depend on their geographic locations.

Like many other snakes, the male will pick up scent trails left from fertile (or ovulating) females. Also like many other snakes, the males may fight over the females in a battle of the who’s best.

The southern species of rattlesnakes will mate when coming out of hibernation in the spring, whereas the northern species will often mate in the fall and the female will store the sperm until the following spring, at the end of hibernation. They birth baby rattlesnakes every 2 years. This is more common for the northern kind.

Fun fact about rattlesnakes: They don’t lay eggs!

 Who would have known? I figured they were the same as so many other snakes and other reptilian kinds. The female rattlesnake carries the eggs inside of her. The eggs get fertilized by the male rattlesnake during mating, and then after carrying the baby snakes inside her in a sort of pregnancy, the mother rattlesnakes give birth to live young.

Rattlesnakes are what we call ovoviviparous. I have no idea how to say that, but what it means is an animal who hatches eggs inside of the parent’s body instead of laying eggs. I don’t really know why that is the word for it, but that’s what it means. Most other snakes are oviparous, which means they just lay eggs and let them hatch.

About 3 months after rattlesnakes mate, the eggs will hatch inside of the body of the female and then the babies are considered birthed. Every 2 years they will have about 10 babies.

How does the Life Cycle of Rattlesnakes Effect how often They Give Birth?

As stated above, about 10 babies are born every 2 years. Baby rattlesnakes are about 10 inches long at birth. Unlike some other snakes, baby rattlesnakes stay close to their mother for approximately 7 to 10 days. It is well-known that this is uncommon in most reptiles.

A reason why this is something that baby rattlesnakes do is that they are born in a very vulnerable state. They struggle to survive because of predators, like coyotes or eagles. Their rattler at the end of their tail is not fully formed yet, so they cannot make the warning rattle sound and scare off enemies.

They also have to survive through harsh weather conditions like snow and extreme sunlight. Sometimes they are in danger of starvation because food can be limited.

Many baby rattlesnakes don’t get through the first year or even the second one. It is a common thing for baby rattlesnakes die in their first year of life. If they push through and survive the winter somehow, they will shed their outer layer of skin every winter following. It’s almost like a metaphoric rite of passage.

Rattlesnakes can and do shed their skin more than one time per year. When shedding, their new rattler section is attached to the old one. Just in case you were wondering what happened to the rattler.

Young rattlesnakes feed on small animals once per week, generally. These animals are often rodents and little lizards.

When rattlesnakes reach adulthood, they become a much more viable foe to other creatures. Their size may depend on which kind of rattlesnake you are talking about. There are around 30 different species of them. In general, though, they grow to about 20 to 50 inches from head to tail.

“While rattlesnakes are normally found together during the mating season they are almost never seen together any other time of year. They live on their own and only need contact when mating. “

Adult rattlesnakes eat mice, other rodents, lizards, squirrels, and other small animals. They eat about every two weeks and swallow their prey whole after poisoning it. They use their venom to protect themselves and immobilize their prey, similar to the Egyptian cobra.

In captivity, rattlesnakes will live to be about 30 years of age. They die sooner in the wild because they are exposed to more dangerous things, such as predators and the weather. So that’s the life cycle of a rattlesnake.

What Do Oviparity, Viviparity, and Ovoviviparity Mean?

After reading all about the birth of baby rattlesnakes, you may have wondered, like me, what those long words meant. Let’s break them down.

Oviparity means that the animal lays eggs. Oviparous literally means “egg birth”. The creatures in these eggs develop outside of the body of the mother before hatching. This is common in many animals. The eggs may be fertilized internally or externally. Only oviparous animals can externally fertilize their eggs.

In contrast to that, viviparity means that a creature gives live birth. Viviparous means “live birth”. Humans are viviparous along with other mammals so I don’t need to explain this one much to you. Apparently, scorpions are also viviparous. Who would have thought?

And a mix of the two is called “ovoviviparous”. That means that the animal produces eggs inside of itself and retains them until the hatching occurs so that “live” young are made. This is how rattlesnakes birth their young. It is not as common as oviparous birth.

What time of year do rattlesnakes shed their skin? There does not seem to be a specific time of year. Rattlesnakes usually shed once or twice a year. It depends on their diet, environment and growth rate. Baby and young snakes grow a lot, so naturally, they shed their skin much more often than adults do.

What temperature is too cold for rattlesnakes? It’s best for them to be somewhere around 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Like many other reptiles, rattlesnakes are ectothermic, otherwise known as “cold-blooded”. Because of this, they rely on outside heat rather than their internal metabolism to keep their temperature levels in check.

How do you keep rattlesnakes away? Don’t allow rodents or pests in your yard. Keep your trash cans closed with a lid. Another thing you need to put away is birdfeeders if you have them. These attract small rodents which in turn will attract rattlesnakes to prey on them. Keep any vines growing up on terraces away from fences, because the snakes can climb up over them and into your backyard.