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Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

Crotalus atrox

Family:

Viperidae, the viper and pit viper family.

Conservation Status:

IUCN Least Concern.

Distribution:

Southwestern North America.

Habitat:

Desert, grassland, brushland, woodland, river and canyon bottoms, lower mountain slopes and bajadas.

Factoid:

They are the most irritable and aggressive of the rattlesnakes, inflicting more bites than all the others. They are quite good swimmers, holding their rattles above the water to keep them dry.

These rattlesnakes have distinct dark brown diamonds down the center of the back on a grayish background, with small blotches on the sides, all peppered with small flecks. A dark stripe runs from each eye diagonally to the corner of the mouth. Their tails are easily identifiable, ringed in black and white like a raccoon’s, thus the term “coon tail”. The largest recorded specimen was over 7 ft., the average is 4-5 ft. long.

Their diet consists of small mammals and birds. Their infrared detecting pits guide them swiftly and surely to their warm-blooded prey.

They are preyed upon by a variety of larger mammals and birds, such as coyotes, foxes, and hawks.

Females mature at three years of age and breeding takes place in the spring with an average of 15 young live-born in late summer, complete with fangs and venom.

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