Rattlesnakes practice silent rattling before their rattles are fully developed, utilize tongue scanning, and generate a positive electrostatic charge — which they also appear to retain — through friction as they move across earth’s surface. In a 1997 paper in Nature, zoologists Dr. Theodore Vonstille and W. T. Stille proposed a new theory that linked these three anomalies.
“Vonstille and Stille proposed that the rattlesnake’s electrostatic charge may serve as an aid to navigation. According to their theory, the snakes may use tongue scanning to read the electrical charges of the landscape as they travel. Electrostatic charges would cause the scanning tongue tips to be repelled by other positive charges and attracted to negative charges. Differences in environmental charge levels could be detected by sensory nerve endings or other sensory cells.” (Shuker 2001:56-57)