Have you heard the rattle? We recently took in two young Aruba island rattlesnakes, a critically endangered species! The reptiles, who are brothers, are part of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) to increase the size of their population.
The snakes came to us from Staten Island Zoo in New York City. By taking in individuals who are not yet recommended for breeding, we are freeing up space for other AZA-accredited institutions to house reproductive pairs and their offspring. We may breed this species at some point, depending on the needs of the SSP.
Although this pair is currently living in a behind-the-scenes area of the Zoo, it is possible that they could move to a public-facing habitat in the future.
A venomous species, the Aruba island rattlesnake is one of the rarest rattlesnakes in the world. Once found across much of Aruba, this species is now largely confined to the southern end of the country. They are threatened by habitat degradation due to tourism-related development and feral goats destroying vegetation; and nonnative boa constrictors competing for the same food sources.