When Florida A&M University, or FAMU as it’s known to most, opened its doors back in October of 1887, there were only fifteen students and 2 professors but an incredible desire to learn and prosper which has grown since those early days. After over a century, FAMU has cemented their position as one of the premiere educational institutions founded for students of color. While the founding of the school and its history is clear cut, the way the school’s mascot came to be is more of a mixture of true history and fantastical lure.
Today, the Florida A&M University mascot is the well known Rattler snake. However, before the snake was agreed on, FAMU went through several mascot options. During the 40’s, the school spent a short time as the pink flamingos but eventually, they settled on being known by the rattlesnake, Rattler. The reason behind choosing the snake is still up for debate as an exact history can not be determined. Most agree, however, that the overwhelming snake population near the campus helped bolster the campaign for the Rattler. The yellowish orange snake has an intricate diamond pattern on its back with a tattoo like pattern around one of its eyes. The appearance of the mascot is intentionally powerful and intimidating much like actual rattlesnakes. When you hear the hiss and shake of a rattlesnake in the bushes, it’s a warning sound to protect yourself or get moving. The intimidating appearance and reputation is exactly how the FAMU sports teams want to be represented when they are on the field. Beyond the sports teams, the FAMU Rattler represents the fierce dedication and drive of the university’s students. The mascot, as a representation of the school, its students, and sports teams, became so popular that the Rattler Charge was developed to further represent the one of a kind tenacity that only FAMU can show.
Florida A&M University prides themselves on nurturing students to become alumni that can confidently propel into the workforce offering more than just their degree. Students of FAMU have a drive, tenacity, and determination to succeed that is special and unique. The Rattler represents them better than any past mascot, especially a pink flamingo. While still a snake like hundreds of others, a rattlesnake is unique in its identity. The sound that it makes, the way that it looks, the colors of its back; when you hear or see a rattlesnake, it is unmistakable. Much like their mascot, when you see a FAMU alumni, it is undeniable that they are more than just another face in the crowd.