I’m always looking for offbeat attractions, and there’s one in Albuquerque’s Old Town–the American International Rattlesnake Museum. Check out its website. It’s logo, a rattler with moving tongue and rattle, reminded me of Google’s clever, often changing cartoon-like figures.
The American International Rattlesnake Museum (AIRM) takes itself about half-seriously. There was a tribute to Steve Irwin and a display of Kachina dolls with an explanation of how the Hopi used a rattler in their rain dance ceremonies. AIRM calls itself an animal conservation museum and has examples of lots of live rattlers, some quite rare; but I received a Certificate of Bravery for visiting and chuckled at a display about snake oil.
Ruth refused to accompany me, so I paid the modest entrance fee in AIRM’s well-stocked retail shop and entered. An alert, real, unmoving Diamondback rattler was on my right, and crocodile bones were on my left. What surprised me about most of the rattlesnakes I observed was their generally small size. I suppose fear of stepping on one and Hollywood have made them larger in my imagination than they are in reality. Speaking of Hollywood, there was an impressive list of movies starring snakes on display in this cluttered museum.
I studied a desert kingsnake, a New Mexico species not found elsewhere, and learned that there were 3 other indigenous rattlesnakes. The Arizona Mountain kingsnake was active and creepy. The New Mexico Ridge-nosed rattlesnake is on the endangered species list, which will be good news to some people, like Ruth.
I was amazed at the number of families sharing this eclectic attraction with me. There were couples watching films, reluctant children being coaxed by parents, etc. One little girl screamed every time she walked by the 2 large boa constrictors available for adoption.
The snake in the picture above is not an albino. It’s a white northwestern, non-tropical rattlesnake. There was a detailed explanation that noted its color was normal, explained how it morphed, and said that it came for the Houston Zoo. There were about 40 rattlers and other critters, like a Gila Monster, in this museum. It’s brochure says that this is the largest collection of different species of live rattlers in the world.