Venomous Snakes

black-tailed rattlesnake

image courtesy of dave prival

Black-tailed Rattlesnake
Crotalus molossus)

This montane rattlesnake is usually found in rocky areas of pine-oak woodland or coniferous forests, though they might also be found amongst saguaros in the Sonoran desert upland. Easily recognizable by their namesake blacktail, they often frequent tree branches or shrubs several feet above the ground.

mojave rattlesnake

image courtesy of roy c murray

Mohave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus) Unlike many rattlesnake species which hibernate in large groups, the Mohave hibernates alone or in groups of only two or three individuals. Though somewhat difficult to tell apart from the western diamond-backed rattlesnake, mohaves are slightly greenish in coloration, and their tail bands have thick white bands with narrower black bands. The venom of the Mohave rattlesnake is a potent blend of hemotoxins (break down cells and tissues) and neurotoxins (affect the nervous system, cause heart failure and/or respiratory paralysis) and is extremely dangerous.

sonoran coralsnake

image courtesy of matt caron

Sonoran Coralsnake
Micruroides euryxanthus
The coralsnake is small and slender. It is brightly colored with bands of red and black separated by narrower yellow bands. This snake specializes in feeding on smaller snakes. Because of its small size (and smaller mouth and fangs), coralsnakes are probably less dangerous to people than rattlesnakes. However, their venom is similar to that of a cobra, and anyone bitten should seek medical attention immediately! The best thing to do is admire it from a distance.

tiger rattlesnake

image courtesy of dave prival

Tiger Rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris)
This relatively small rattlesnake is only found in the Sonoran Desert region. It is recognized by its small head, large rattle, and many closely spaced bands along its back and sides. The fangs of the tiger rattlesnake are proportionately shorter than that of other rattlesnakes, but this does not limit their effectiveness as a hunting tool or defensive weapon.

western diamondbacked rattlesnake

image courtesy of dave prival

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
The western diamond-backed rattlesnake is the largest rattlesnake in the western U.S. It gets its name from the diamond-shaped markings on its back. It can live in a variety of habitats in arid and semi-arid regions of the west. This snake is dangerous, not only because of its size, but also because of its attitude. They often hold their ground and defend themselves when approached. If you come across one, the best thing you can do is give it plenty of room and leave it alone.
Total length: 30 - 90 in (76 - 230 cm)
Diet: Mammals, lizards, birds and nestlings



Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes)
The sidewinder is found in sandy areas of the Sonoran Desert, where their unique form of locomotion comes in handy. The sidewinder throws a loop of its body in the direction that it wants to travel and then pulls the rest of its body to the loop and repeats the process. Sidewinding reduces contact between the snake’s body and the ground, minimizing slippage on loose soils. Sidewinders can be easily distinguished by the hornlike scales on top of their heads.
Total length: 17 - 33 in (43 - 84 cm)
Diet: Small mammals, lizards, sometimes birds and their nestlings

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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