Rattled by Texans

12 03 2007

I can’t believe events like this still go on; in Sweetwater, Texas, rattlesnakes are gassed out of their dens to provide public entertainment (often in the form of food and belts) to about 30,000 people annually. While some reports claim that the event is an economic boon that brings in millions to the community, ecologists are rightly rattled by the events that go on every year. According to this report, this year 4,300 pounds of rattlesnakes were brought in, and this is what many of the snakes have to look forward to;

[Due to complaints from the photo was used illegally I have removed it, but you can still find it at the link below, along with others]

The image was taken from this page, providing a look at some of what goes on at the event. As if the actual event wasn’t unethical in of itself (snakes being beheaded, skinned, and roasted), the methods by which they’re caught is equally shocking. Gas fumes are pumped into snake dens (home to insects, small mammals, and other wildlife) to drive the snakes out, which typically end up as souvenirs at the show (I didn’t see anything about “catch and release”). According to this PlanetArk article (which I originally viewed on Yahoo!News), some justify the atrocities by claiming that it keeps livestock safe from the dangerous snakes, and although I haven’t seen any numbers, I wouldn’t imagine that rates of mortality by snakebite are very high among livestock. Such is the same with wolves; if there is a natural predator in the area dim-witted humans want to eliminate it wholesale, and if they can have some fun while doing it they will surely find a way.

Many locals say that ecologists blow the issue out of proportion, but as I have often asked, why is it that so few people consider the ethics of the situation? These snakes surely feel pain, probably even fear (they’re not rattling their tails because they’re pleased to see you), and what occurs at the roundup is certainly inhumane. They’re just snakes, right? They’re a scourge on the earth, the very beast that tempted Adam and Eve and cause the Fall. Indeed, (I don’t know how many Texans are creationists, but I’d guess the numbers are relatively high) perhaps this is some sort of latent revenge for being evicted from Paradise, and effort to play out some Biblical drama. (Note: I made the last statement half-joking; I’m not convinced that all these people hate snakes because of Biblical events). If you want a closer look at these kinds of events yourself and can’t venture to Texas, the National Geographic documentary King Rattler shows a herpetologist visiting such a show.




32 responses

12 03 2007
Big A

LOL that’s funny! I hope PETA see’s this and crys. Those snakes deserve it, there is too many of them.

12 03 2007

Ah, the rattlesnake roundup.
They’ve been doing this for, like, what, over a hundred years? And yet, they don’t seem to bother to notice the correlation between the rattlesnake roundup, and the resultant rodent population boom and rodent-induced grain loss.

12 03 2007
Paul Kalich

This is the 49th year, if you read the notes attached to the photos that I took about 90% of the snakes taken are males (they actually measure, weigh and sex each snake). There are more snakes killed on highways by vehicle traffic in a 4 county area of west Texas than killed by all of the snake roundups in the country so I guess we need to have people walking down the highways infront of every car removing the snakes before they get run over?

What is rather odd is that they go back to the same locations year after year and the population of snakes is back pretty much to what it was the year before at the same dens. Snakes by the way will travel up to about a 1 mile radius from their base den to feed and get water.

12 03 2007


With all due respect you don’t need permission ti use a picture on the net. You do see photos on the net correct? People didn’t sign releases for them.

Second. The slaughter of these predators for entertainment is rather, well, lame. It’s so 100 yeas ago and frankly it’s time these events withered and died. The time has passed for this barbarity.

12 03 2007
Jim Victory

I’m a wildlife photographer and certainly don’t support such roundups but the use of this phot without the permission of the photographer is copyright infringement and is punishable by both criminal and civil laws. Just because it is on the internet doesn’t make it legal to copy it. Just about every professional photographer has a website and their work is for viewing not copying and the use of such images without written permission is a violation of their copyright. So if you want continue this type of action then expect the legal repercussions.

12 03 2007

Unfortunately, this is inaccurate. Images are not free to use just because they are on the net. You can justify it anyway you choose, but it is against the law without permission. Whether or not it is pursued legally is a whole other matter. But don’t kid yourself. It is no different than grabbing any other electronic copyritten file (mp3, software app, etc…) I have no comment on the content…just on the legality.

12 03 2007
Paul Kalich

So GH condones the copying of music too.

Now I did not get signed model releases from the people in the photos but they were asked if there pictures could be taken at this public event. BTW the one shot that the gentleman used here was being posed for another photographer and I just thought it was interesting.

13 03 2007

Its outright theft if you take a photo from someone’s site and do not ask for permission. No permission was asked, therefore it is not legal.

Take one of my images and you will get a cease and desist letter. Break the law and you will get punished.

So just because music is on the internet does that make it legal to download and use without the author/musician/artists permission? I think not.

13 03 2007
Gene Goldring

Downloading music legally is all in the geography. I download legally and copy my friends CD’s if I care to, again legally.

The photo was found in the public domain. This site isn’t making money off this photo so it can remain where it is.

Killing animals for entertainment is a sign of a mentally sick community.

I am a Canadian!

13 03 2007

I didn’t realize Canadians were exempt of copyright laws. I guess one is…Right Gene? LOL

Making money off something does not make it legal or not. Find a bike on a public sidewalk doesn’t entitle you to take it home with you or use it how you see fit. Sorry.. but there are some very misinformed people out there.

13 03 2007

You make a lot of ignorant assumptions in your text (including replies) so I can only ASSUME you’re writing through emotions. You took the easy way out following the popular stance and failed to justify it.

You need to stop, you’re making an ass out of yourself and stop stealing other people’s property.


13 03 2007
Jim Victory

Gene Goldring,

Since your not familiar with US copyright laws your statement and assumptions are worthless. All you have managed to do is promulgate your ignorance of the law

13 03 2007

Odd that barbaric snake killers seemed so concerned about ethical issues.

13 03 2007
Leaning Towards the Dark Side » Blog Archive » Whacking Day is real!

[…] At least it is in Sweetwater Texas in Sweetwater, Texas, rattlesnakes are gassed out of their dens to provide public entertainment (often in the form of food and belts) to about 30,000 people annually. […]

13 03 2007
Prince Roy

I think those of you arguing this violates copyright law are mistaken. He took one picture from a series that consisted a ‘work’ of this snake slaughter. He credited the ‘artist’ and provided a link-back to the original work. He is not making any money from his use of the image, nor preventing the artist from income. His use of the work consists in commentary of fair and reasonable criticism of this event, thus his use of the image is permissible under the Fair Use exception to copyright law, given totality of the circumstances.

You guys are barking up the wrong tree, or maybe you’re just simply barking.

13 03 2007
Peter McGrath

Delighted to see it appeared to be sponsored by the ‘World Leaders in Wind Energy.’ So that’s alright then.

13 03 2007

quote : “He credited the ‘artist’ and provided a link-back to the original work. He is not making any money from his use of the image, nor preventing the artist from income.”

Not the point. It all comes down to the fact that he TOOK this one picture without the EXPRESS CONSENT of the photographer. Stealing is stealing no matter how you look at it.

“Odd that barbaric snake killers seemed so concerned about ethical issues.” So Matt, everyone from texas is now a barbaric snake killer? Oh forgive me of my wrongdoing.

Oh, thats right, I NO LONGER LIVE IN TEXAS. Nor do I actually agree with the event – but at the same time, its not really going to bother me.

So with this all being said, are you all going to get emotional with the act of ferreting in europe? You know, sending ferrets down rabbit holes to flush them out too? Or is that ok?

Go read the copyright law to get the proper information.

13 03 2007

Thank you for commenting everyone. I’ve removed the image and my apologies to the photographer for using the image without expressed permission. This is not an excuse (I really should have asked), but I was so shocked by what I saw that I didn’t think twice about it; I thought it was important to tell people about a brutal and wasteful event that I find unethical. Still, what I did was impolite and it would be in bad faith to continue to host the image if the photographer is vehemently opposed to me linking to his work.

That issue aside, I haven’t seen anything that justifies the roundup or would change my mind about it. “The snakes are in the same holes as last year” isn’t an excuse to keep gassing them out of their holes and beheading them for an audience. Just because something is traditional doesn’t mean it’s ok to keep doing it; I’ve had similar things to say about Japanese whaling ships killing Minke whales for “scientific study” (aka the food market) and wolves in Wyoming and Idaho being hunted for under $10 a head (if you’re a state resident).

As for silverpixels comment about ferreting, I admit I do not at present know much about the practice and I’ll have to look into it; perhaps I’ll even write about it later today. Other than the cruelty of the roundup, I find the use of gas to oust the snakes to be unwise, killing plenty of other creatures that share the burrows (and even the snakes themselves), much like fish collectors in the Pacific have used cleaning products to stun fish (ultimately killing/bleaching the reef).

In any event, I apologize for my impoliteness in hosting and linking to the image and this has certainly taught me to be more careful about it in the future (especially when the person who took the picture disagrees with your criticisms of the event shown). Thanks to all who have been supportive, however, and I hope at least some of you will continue to enjoy my writing here.

13 03 2007

I would expect this kind of a web page from someone who brags about SCUBA diving at Disneyworld.

It’s unfortunate that there isn’t an IQ test that must be passed in order to start a blog.

13 03 2007

No “boxofrocks”, tell me what you really think. It’s ever-so brave of you to come on here and insult me from behind a pseudonym without adding anything constructive to the conversation. Why not impart some of your great and powerful wisdom so we can all learn from it? I guess you can’t be bothered; too many people to insult while cowering behind a made up name. Your tactics only speak to your cowardly character.

13 03 2007
max hodges

I hope your a vegetarian Brian Switek. The snake industry is pretty small potatoes compares to the chicken, pig, and cow meat industry.

13 03 2007

Just wondering if you eat meat, Brian. Meat of ANY kind.

13 03 2007
Humans behaving very very badly » Bligbi

[…] this morning I read this post by Brian Switek about the slaughtering of rattlesnakes here in Texas.   I thought that was bad […]

13 03 2007
Top Posts « WordPress.com

[…] Rattled by Texans I can’t believe events like this still go on; in Sweetwater, Texas, rattlesnakes are gassed out of their dens to […] […]

14 03 2007
prince roy at-large


you have a poor understanding of copyright law. the fair use exception is designed exactly to permit people to use works WITHOUT the EXPRESS content of the work’s creator, in certain situations. I believe this is one of those situations, although ulitmately, court would decide. Since Laelaps removed the picture, it is a moot point.

14 03 2007
Prince Roy

“WITHOUT the EXPRESS content of the work’s creator, in certain situations.”

sorry, that should be ‘consent’, not ‘content’.

21 03 2007
Joyce Donnelly

I was raised in Sweetwater, TX and can vividly remember snakes crawling down the street in town. Having said that, I do not agree with the methods used to gather and “store’ the snakes. Seems as if they think snakes cannot feel, etc. The snakes just need to be treated better.

23 03 2007

this reminds me of a special i saw on crocodiles/alligators. in this rural town in the buttfuck of nowhere, they make it into this big huge thing to capture & kill alligators/crocodiles (forgot which), because they’re a danger to the people & children. well here’s a tip “folks”: don’t move into a wild animal’s enivornment expecting them to be bow down & leave you alone. leave the animals to themselves in their natural environment & dont invade their space, and you wont have any consequences from doing so.

god, i hate people..

19 07 2007
Who cares what Al Gore eats? « Laelaps

[…] to piss somebody off. I’ve even run into this myself; when I posted about the horror of the annual rattlesnake massacre in Sweetwater, Texas, I was chastised by some vegans/vegetarians for eating meat (their assumptions were right even […]

19 09 2007
What a waste of chiropterans « Laelaps

[…] a waste of chiropterans 19 09 2007 What is it about some people in Texas slaughtering animals for no good reason? According to news reports out today, a number of bats (an actual estimate of the […]

26 03 2008

Beautiful teen girls

8 07 2013
work from home with no startup fees

great issues altogether, you just received a new reader.
What might you suggest in regards to your put up that you just made some days ago?

Any positive?

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