• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Snakes - Prairie Rattlesnake

Prairie Rattlesnake - Crotalus viridis
Prairie Rattlesnake - Crotalus viridis
NPS Photo by Kevin Jackson
 

The prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) is an important predator of prairie dogs and other small rodents. This snake may actually live in prairie dog towns residing in the old burrows of their former prey.

The rattlesnake is not aggressive but like most animals it will defend itself when it feels threatened. The venom of the rattlesnake is a hemotoxin (blood poison). The snake can regulate the amount of venom it injects conserving what it does not need for later use. About one-third of the North American venomous snake bites received by humans are "dry" or venom free.

 
Sound

Listen to the rattlesnake (162k wma file)

Did You Know?

fire on the prairie

Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.