Long story short, the Apache Rattlesnake Festival is this weekend in Southwest Oklahoma, and PETA--People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals--has started a pretty sizable web campaign to end what is considered a regular practice that happens at rattlesnake roundups like this.

They demand that events like this should end the taking of photos with rattlesnakes... at least that's the over-simplified goal.

The real rub is how these rattlesnakes are prepared ahead of time in order to allow people to get up close and personal with them safely. Their mouths are sewn shut so they can't strike the person holding them.

Is it weird? For sure it's at least a little creepy the first time you see someone walking around with a live rattlesnake... but is it cruel?

The release that inspired an unprecedented amount of social media stalking and cyber-bullying from the animal rights group went out as follows:

Torturing snakes by sewing their mouths shut is both exceptionally deplorable and seemingly criminal. Please urge the festival’s organizers to prohibit any exhibitor who engages in this abusive conduct from participating in the 2023 event. The procedure—which is likely done without any painkillers—leaves the snakes mutilated and unable to take in life-sustaining nourishment for days on end.....


Exploiting them for photo ops and then killing them is a form of speciesism—a human-supremacist worldview—and has no place at a festival or anywhere else.

Now before you start assuming I'm all about the torture of animals, as a sportsman and fellow living creature, I'm very much so not... it's just that I've learned over the years that if PETA is involved, the general welfare of whatever animal they're talking about that day probably isn't at the center of their goal. I mean, how can you pledge that killing is cruelty when so many PETA animal shelters around the country euthanize/kill an overwhelming majority of the animals they take in?

It's worth noting I'm also not trying to pick a fight, just speaking in factual detail. Death is a part of life and nothing gets out alive. It's also worth noting that PETA shelters humanely euthanize their animals as a method of taking a life.

PETA's response to the 2023 Apache Rattlesnake Festival has been fervent to say the least. Even when we announced the dates of this year's event months ago, our social media filled up with random people complaining about the sewing of mouths and such, as if we were the ones doing it. One lady named Susan even threatened a boycott of our radio stations.

Susan lives in California...


The social media bullying campaign has been successful for the animal rights group though. The Apache Rattlesnake Festival has announced they won't be sewing snakes' mouths shut for photo ops this year.

Apache Rattlesnake Festival
Apache Rattlesnake Festival

However, visitors to this year's event will still be able to enjoy learning all about these nope-ropes in the huge snake pit.

While it may seem like an unwarranted spectacle to some, people that live in close proximity to these snakes learn invaluable knowledge. What they sound like, what to do if you encounter them in the wild, and the immediate process of first aid in the event someone gets bit.

The Apache Rattlesnake Festival organizers also milk the venom from these snakes which is used to further research in the medical labs of OU.

The snakes are humanely slaughtered at that point. The meat is cooked, the hides are sold, and tons of money is raised for the community and various programs of Apache... well, less money will be raised this year without the popular photo booth, but life always finds a way.

The festival starts Thursday, April 13th, and runs through the weekend in Apache. If you get the chance to go, have fun. As for me, I'm going to sit here and await the emails I usually get from PETA anytime I write about them or animals in Southwest Oklahoma.

Oklahoma's Venomous Snakes

If you spend any amount of time outdoors in Oklahoma, it's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the natural world around you. While only seven of Oklahoma's native 46 species of snake are venomous, it's those seven species that are seen the most in the wilds of the Sooner State.

The Beauty Of Southwest Oklahoma

Too many people spend too much time complaining about being in Southwest Oklahoma. If only they'd shut their mouths and open their eyes from time to time, then they'd see the true beauty of this place.

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