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The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
(Crotelus atrox)
One of the larger species of rattlesnake common to the arid Southwest United States. From the sheer standpoint of size it ranks as one of the world's largest and most dangerous snakes.

The diamondback primarily feeds on small rodents, rabbits, birds, and almost anything alive that can be swallowed whole.

Click on this picture to hear it ! (WAV 114k) Partly because of its wide distribution, this snake accounts for more serious and fatal snake bites than any other North American reptile.
Sizes range from new born (live, no eggs) at about 10 inches to full adults at around 60 inches. Specimens exceeding six feet are rare.
The loud buzzing rattler sound coupled with a high rising and very threatening coil is usually ample identification information for those in the field.

They are largely defensive and tend to stand their ground if provoked.A rattlesnake is classified as having hemotoxic venom that attacks the blood system of its prey.

These serpents should be considered armed and dangerous with a well-developed fang and poison delivery system.

Pictured to right is the "busines end" of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.

(Note the droplet of yellowish venom on the left fang.)

Rattlesnakes have a wide range of color variations with emphasis on gray, tan, and black with sometimes a strong yellowish, reddish, or greenish tone.

This captive albino specimen is approximately 4 feet in length and lacks the protective camouflage of the typical diamondback.


A diamondback on the prowl for a meal.

Notice the forked tongue. The snake uses this to "taste" the air and find its prey. Pit vipers, like the diamondback, also use heat sensitive areas in "pits" on the front of their heads to locate their victims even in total darkness.



Authored by CONCISE COMMUNICATIONS. This page last updated on 06/28/97.
Copyright 1997 CONCISE COMMUNICATIONS & TNE, Inc. All rights reserved.
Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
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