Identifying Rattlesnake sounds: What sound do snakes make?

rattlesnake sound
Before a snake strikes, it will often give a warning sign. Snakes often hiss, shriek, growl, and squeak through a tube in their mouth. Species of rattlesnakes possess a distinctive rattle that also produces sound. Some species also flatulate through their cloaca, creating a sound similar to a pop.

Snakes can be menacing creatures. Of the over three thousand species of snakes that roam the world, about 7% of them can fatally wound or kill a human.

Unlike dangerous predators like coyotes and bears, snakes rarely make their presence known. Instead, many slither stealthily in the shadows, often striking when their victim least expects it.

This makes identifying snake sounds all the more critical. If you know what sound a snake makes, you can be on the lookout for their approach and take steps to avoid them.

Tightly coiled rattlesnake

What is the sound of a snake?

As mentioned earlier, snakes produce various sounds depending on the species.

Here are the six most common sounds that snakes make:


Hissing is the most common sound that snakes make. Hisses are produced by forcing air through the snake’s narrowed glottis, located in the throat. Hissing is used as a form of intimidation and warning to potential predators or victims.


Shrieking is a loud, high-frequency noise that some snakes make. It is produced similarly to hissing, but the glottis is opened wider, allowing more air to escape. Shrieking is generally only used in self-defense.


Growling is a deep, guttural noise made by some cobras species. It’s not as loud as a lion or wolf’s, but it is still intimidating. Growling is produced by forcing air through the snake’s vocal cords and is meant to warn off predators.


Squeaking is a high-pitched noise that some snakes make like pythons. It is produced by forcing air through the snake’s closed mouth. This type of vocalization is a sign of a respiratory infection.


All species of rattlesnakes produce rattling sounds that sound like maracas. A rattlesnake rattle can be up to six inches long and is made up of segments of keratin. The rattlesnake sound of a rattler is produced by shaking the rattle, which vibrates to create a distinct sound.


Snakes can flatulate or fart through their cloaca, an opening located at the base of the tail. This noise is usually emitted when a snake feels threatened and resembles popping sounds.

Python coiled in the grass

Do snakes bark?

Snakes don’t bark in the same way dogs do. However, one possible exception is the gopher snake, which produces sounds that almost resemble a low-pitched bark.

Do snakes whistle?

No, snakes don’t intentionally whistle. Snakes may make a sound that resembles whistling if they have a respiratory infection causing wheezing or breathing difficulties.

If you have a pet snake that is wheezing, it’s best to take it to the vet for an examination, as it could be an emergency.

Can you hear snakes breathe?

Yes, you can sometimes hear snakes breathe, especially before, during, or immediately after it has finished shedding. However, if the breathing is heavy and labored, it could be a sign of a respiratory infection.

albino python with yellow and white markings coiled on dry grass

What to do if you identify snake sounds in or around your house?

First, you must stay calm and avoid panicking when you hear a snake sound. Snakes are definitely more scared of you than you are of them, and they will likely try to avoid you if they can.

Once you see the snake out in the open, try to identify it from a distance. You want to know whether you’re dealing with a venomous or non-venomous snake. If you’re not sure, venomous snakes typically have beefier bodies with wider, triangular-shaped heads.

If you hear a hissing sound or rattlesnake’s tail inside your house, it’s best to try to confine it to one single room and then call a professional snake catcher or your local animal control.

If you hear a snake outside, try scaring it away by making loud noises. You can also try spraying it with water from a hose. DIY repellents such as cinnamon, ammonia, and white vinegar can also deter snakes from entering your property.

Lastly, setting up a snake-proof fence to prevent them from re-entering their habitats around your property can be helpful.

python's head in medium height green grass

Joshua Munoz

Most people’s first instinct when they see a wild skunk is to back away, but not Joshua. He holds a near-obsessive fascination with skunks and their behavior. Although Joshua has never been closer than five feet to a skunk, he has spent countless hours researching them. He knows almost everything there is to know about skunks, from their diet and habitat, to how to humanely trap them. Joshua’s interest in skunks is rooted in his love of animal biology. He fondly remembers topping his finals in biology class while in university. Now, as a writer, he fuses passion and expertise into one by sharing his knowledge about the animal kingdom with others.

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