In the wild the Western diamondback rattlesnake rarely attacks humans unless provoked. But when it is threatened, the snake can accurately strike at a distance of approximately one-third its body length. When it bites, it injects a potent hemotoxin, a type of venom that kills red blood cells and causes severe tissue damage.
Stunt performers and extras were the only actors in Snakes on a Plane to ever work with live snakes, and its likely they never had to handle real rattlesnakes. About two-thirds of the film's serpents are either animatronic or computer generated.