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Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Snakes Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
 
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

General Description: A large, heavy-bodied rattlesnake with a wide, triangular head. The dorsal color appears faded, generally grayish with darker diamond-shaped marks surrounded by white borders.

This species can be confused with Mojave Green Rattlesnakes. However, Diamondback Rattlesnakes have wide black bands on the tail and the upper white eyestripe connects to the corner of the mouth.

These snakes are venomous. Do not attempt to handle rattlesnakes; rather, enjoy your good luck of finding one from a distance (minimum 4 feet away) and leave them alone.

Taxonomy: Pit Vipers Family (Viperidae)

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

Technical Description: Body length 3 to 5 ft (maximum 7.5 ft). Body thick. Head wide, triangular, and with two distinct, light-colored diagonal stripes on the side of the face bordering a darker, wider stripe; the rear line extends from behind the eye to the upper lip ahead of the corner of the mouth, while the front stripe extends from the front of the eye to the middle of the upper lip. Dorsal color generally gray with dark diamond-shaped or hexagonal marks surrounded by white borders. Smaller, fainter blotches on the sides. Dorsal scales keeled, flecked with black, giving it a rough, speckled appearance. Overall color dull, giving it a faded appearance. Tail with broad black and white rings; black rings as wide or wider than the white rings.

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

Diet: Primarily feeds on small mammals (e.g., squirrels, rabbits, mice), lizards, and birds.

Habitat: This species occurs in a variety of habitats, especially open desert in creosote bush areas and rocky foothills up to 7,000 ft in elevation; also woodlands and sandy mesquite dune habitats.

Range: This species occurs throughout the southwestern U.S. (California to Oklahoma) and northern Mexico. In Nevada, this species is restricted to the southern tip of the state and along the Colorado River. Specimens have been reported from the Searchlight area.

Breeding: Gives birth to 4 to 23 live young in the summer and fall.

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

Similar Species: This species generally can be identified from other species of rattlesnakes in southern Nevada by the presence of black and white rings on the tail that are approximately equal in width, and by the eye-line that ends at the corner of the mouth; however, definite identification may require counting scales on the snout (not recommended). The Mojave (Green) Rattlesnake has narrow black tail rings and the white stripe behind the eye extends to beyond the corner of the mouth.

Comments: This species is the largest of the western rattlesnakes. Also called the Coon-tail Rattlesnake. Generally crepuscular and nocturnal, but sometimes diurnal.

Special Remarks: Venomous.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Sad snakes in a West Oklahoma snake-pit
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Dorsal scales
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Lateral scales

 
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 120910

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