Photo opportunity: The jaws of one of the snakes are prized open.
Each year they are hunted, gassed and crammed into containers before being milked and finally beheaded. Even after death, they may be skinned for cash and the amusement of a throng of spectators. The unwilling stars of this bloody spectacle are the rattlesnakes of Sweetwater, Texas, which are rounded up every March by hunters who receive about $5 a pound for the unfortunate reptiles.
Image: Kevin Brown
A shot of the skinning station.
The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Round-up is not the only event of its kind (round-ups are prevalent throughout the South and Midwest US), but it is certainly the largest. Since it began in 1959, the Sweetwater Round-up has collected over 300,000 pounds (136,000 kg) of rattlesnakes. At roughly 3 pounds (1.36 kg) per snake, that amounts to about 100,000 snakes — definitely not a record to please reptile lovers.