Rattlesnakes are venomous reptiles found in continental USA, Mexico, central America & south America. They are ambush predators and play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling the numbers of mice, squirrels, chipmunks and rats. They will also take other reptiles and insects. They do not like being around people and will hide when humans are close by. If a person is bitten by a rattlesnake it is usually because the snake has been caught off guard or someone is attempting to hold it. They are the prey of crows & ravens, racoons, opossums, skunks, coyotes, weasels and chaparals.
Several rattlesnake roundups happen each year in America with the biggest being held in the Texan town of Sweetwater.
The snakes are caught by gassing. Gasoline or other toxins are poured in to their dens forcing them out where they can be caught. The snakes are stored in containers prior to the festival.
Sweetwater has a number of attractions for visitors including the opportunity to have a selfie taken with one of the rattlesnakes.
As with most festivals and fairs, souviners are available for attendees to purchase. These pictures show the discarded heads of rattlesnakes preserved in jars, a snake skin cane & rattlesnake earrings.
Organisers and supporters of the festival believe that the event is necessary to provide education. In this picture a gentleman is demonstrating how rattlesnakes bite by taunting one of the snakes with an object. The hook he is holding is to control the snake.
Along with the souvenir stands, a range of rattlesnake taxidermy is available for collectors of such things to purchase
When visitors are in need of food they can purchase deep fried rattlesnake, a favourite with diners at the festival, .
Each year a young lady is chosen from the festivals beauty pageant and crowned Miss Snake Charmer. The winner shown here poses for the cameras and crowd with a skinned rattlesnake. There is also a rattlesnake eating competition with the winner being declared Champion Snake Eater.
When the snakes have been milked for their venom (presumably this is sold on for anti venom manufacture) the snakes are moved on to the dismemberment station.
Festival goers can pay to dismember the rattlesnakes.
The skins from the rattlesnakes are sold. From the time the festival begins the snakes are commodified in every way possible.