There’s a place in Old Town Albuquerque where rattlesnakes meet people, or maybe it’s vice versa. One thing is for certain: There are more different species of live rattlesnakes here than the Bronx Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo, National Zoo, Denver Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, and San Diego Zoo combined. That’s a lot of snakes!
Perhaps not for those with snake phobias or the squeamish; nevertheless, the American International Rattlesnake Museum (www.rattlesnakes.com) is a fascinating “animal conservation museum” where you can see species from North, Central, and South America behind glass and in recreated habitats. (There is also a snapping turtle and a Gila monster). While I expected all venomous snakes to be large, I learned that it is not necessarily true, as several were no bigger than a large gecko. I also learned that the smaller rattlesnakes can be some of the most lethally venomous.
With over 50,000 visitors annually, the museum is a treasure trove of educational facts about rattlesnakes. (Maybe that is why it has appeared on 27 different TV shows that include the Disney and Discovery Channels). For example: I was surprised to discover that rattlesnakes are not aggressive but rather extremely shy and only bite to defend themselves or to catch food. Humans are not considered as food but as something to be avoided.
Located about 100 feet south of the southeast corner of the main plaza in Old Town, the museum is open 10 am–6 pm daily, and from 1 pm–5 pm on Sundays, but is closed for major holidays. The modest admission is $5 for adults and $3 for kids. Seniors, military, and students pay $4.