Crotalus atrox - Rattlesnake

Crotalus atrox - Rattlesnake


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Crotalus atrox

Common name

: Western rattlesnake or rattlesnake


  • Average body length: 1.5 - 2 meters
  • Weight: 6 kg
  • Lifespan: 20 years (usually less due to hunting and anthropization)
  • Sexual maturity:3 years


The Crotalux atrox it is certainly, among the members of the genus Crotalus, the most famous rattlesnake. It is an animal that is found exclusively in the American continent, in California, Arizona, Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and in the United States.

Its habitat is mainly terrestrial from sea level up to 2,400 m above sea level even if the greatest concentration is below 1,500 m s.l.m.

The rattlesnake is found in almost all habitats: sandy, rocky, wooded, shrubby, desert and even coastal areas.


The rattlesnake has a body that reaches an average length of about 1.5 m for a weight of about 6 kg; covered with scales and with a variable color from gray to yellowish to brown to pink.

It has a triangular-shaped head and between the eye and the nostril there is a dimple (one per nostril, therefore two in total) about 5 mm deep where thermoreceptors are located which are used to identify prey thanks to the heat emanating from their body. as it has been established that the rattlesnake is deaf.

The rattlesnake is an animal with retractable fangs with which, when it bites, it injects into its victim a venom whose flow is controlled by the muscles surrounding the venom glands and is deadly. When it bites it often happens that the teeth can remain inside the prey's tissues for this reason they are replaced 2-4 times a year.

The tail is white in color and has characteristic rings of horny consistency that are derived from the residues of the moult. They are real resonance organs that when agitated emit a characteristic noise in fact the tail muscles are structured in such a way as to have high frequency contractions to allow rapid movement.


Characteristically this rattlesnake is an aggressive animal due to the fact that it takes very little to make it feel threatened. When this happens it coils around itself in a spiral flattening, raised the head and keeps the tail raised by waving it back and forth quickly and causing the characteristic sound that represents a warning.

The males often undertake fights during the mating period but also to defend their territory, during which they rise from the ground by rushing against each other, moving repeatedly against their opponent until one of the two gives up and He goes away.

Rattlesnakes with the arrival of winter either hibernate or move to warmer areas. To hibernate, rattlesnakes, if they live in areas where winter is not particularly cold, use makeshift dens; vice versa, if they are found in areas where temperatures become particularly rigid, then they look for and expropriate the burrows dug in the ground by other mammals. Generally the burrows are used by several individuals at the same time.

They are mainly diurnal and crepuscular animals in spring but become crepuscular and nocturnal during the hot summer months while during the day they remain protected in the bushes or in the crevices of the ground.


This rattlesnake feeds on birds, small mammals, amphibians and sometimes even manages to catch fish.

To capture its prey, the snake remains hidden waiting for its victim to pass, lurking along its usual paths. Once sighted, it pounces on it by biting it; the prey dies within a few minutes and is swallowed whole and digested over the next few days. Since it takes a certain amount of time for digestion, they typically eat every 2-3 weeks.

They do not have a great need for water and in arid areas, they obtain the water necessary for their sustenance directly from the assimilation of prey.


Sexual maturity in the rattlesnake is reached around 3 years of age.

Mating occurs during the spring, when hibernation ends. In order to be accepted by females, males perform characteristic ritual dances.

They are ovoviviparous animals therefore the male of the rattlesnake puts his hemipenis inside the cloaca of the female where the eggs are fertilized; the gestation of the eggs lasts a little more than 5 months at the end of which 10 to 20 young live snakes are born that stay with the mother for a maximum of one day after which they disperse to make an independent life.

Mortality rates in the first year of life are very high due to lack of food, low temperatures and predators.


Rattlesnakes are normally preyed upon by hawks, eagles.


The species Crotalus atrox it is classified in the IUNC Red list among species at low risk of extinction LEAST CONCERN (LC). The population is in fact considered stable and greater than 100,000 adult specimens and no particular dangers for their survival have been highlighted apart from a decrease in their natural habitat due to urbanization or killing by man for an instinctive deep sense. of fear towards these animals.


The rattlesnake is a very important animal to keep the population of small mammals under control, especially rodents.

In the past it was a very important animal in the Native American culture who used its meat as food, poison to prepare medicines and the skin to make belts and shoes.


It is the species that causes the greatest number of deaths in America due to snake bites.

To hear the sounds and noises emitted by this animal, go to the article: The sounds made by the rattlesnake.


(1) Original photograph courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Western rattlesnake - Crotalus atrox

The western adamantine rattlesnake, scientific name Crotalus atrox, identified simply as rattlesnake, belongs to the family of the Viparidae.

There species atrox it is the best known and most widespread of the kind gods Crotals. The term rattlesnake comes from the Greek word Krotalon what does it mean rattle, with reference to horny rings present on the tip of the tail of the snakes belonging to this genus.

This rattlesnake is responsible for the greatest number of deaths by snake bite in northern Mexico.

The viperids (Viperidae Oppel, 1811) are a family of snakes commonly called vipers, equipped with a very effective venom which they inject, just like a syringe, thanks to their hollow teeth, into the wound caused by the bite.

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Where do snakes live?

Snakes, given their diversity of species, have colonized almost all habitats on the planet, with the exception of the poles. Some snakes live in areas wooded, using trees as a displacement route. Other snakes live in pastures and more open areas. But they can also live in very rocky or water-scarce areas, such as deserts. There are offices that have even colonized the oceans. So the aquatic environment it can also be an ideal place for some species of snakes.


  • 1 Ecology
    • 1.1 Range and habitat
    • 1.2 Prey
    • 1.3 Hydration
    • 1.4 Predators
  • 2 Anatomy
    • 2.1 Sensory organs
      • 2.1.1 Heat-sensing pits
      • 2.1.2 Eyes
      • 2.1.3 Smell
      • 2.1.4 Auditory system
    • 2.2 Fangs
    • 2.3 Venom
    • 2.4 Rattle
    • 2.5 Skin and circulation
  • 3 Reproduction
  • 4 Brumation
  • 5 Conservation status
  • 6 Safety and first aid
    • 6.1 Avoiding bites
    • 6.2 Effect of bites on humans
  • 7 Antivenin
    • 7.1 Veterinary care
  • 8 In human culture
    • 8.1 Spirituality
      • 8.1.1 Indigenous Americans
      • 8.1.2 Christian snake handling sects
    • 8.2 As food
    • 8.3 Symbolism
  • 9 See also
  • 10 References
  • 11 Further reading
  • 12 External links

Range and habitat Edit

Rattlesnakes are native to the Americas, living in diverse habitats from southwestern Canada to central Argentina. The large majority of species lives in the American Southwest and Mexico. Four species may be found east of the Mississippi River, and two in South America. In the United States, the states with the most types of rattlesnakes are Texas and Arizona.

Rattlesnakes are found in almost every type of habitat capable of supporting terrestrial ectothermic vertebrates, but individual species can have extremely specific habitat requirements, only able to live within certain plant associations in a narrow range of altitudes. Most species live near open, rocky areas. Rocks offer them cover from predators, plentiful prey (e.g. rodents, lizards, insects, etc. that live amidst the rocks), and open basking areas. However, rattlesnakes can also be found in a wide variety of other habitats including prairies, marshes, deserts, and forests. [6] Rattlesnakes prefer a temperature range between 80 and 90 ° F (26 and 32 ° C), but can survive temperatures below freezing, recovering from brief exposure to temperatures as low as 4 ° F (−16 ° C), and surviving for several days in temperatures as low as 37 ° F (3 ° C). [7]

The most probable ancestral area of ​​rattlesnakes is the Sierra Madre Occidental region in Mexico. The most probable vegetation or habitat of the ancestral area appears to be pine-oak forests. [8] Feeding habits play an important ecological role by limiting the size of rodent populations, which prevents crop damage and stabilizes ecosystems. [9]

Prey Edit

Rattlesnakes consume mice, rats, small birds, and other small animals. [10] They lie in wait for their prey, or hunt for it in holes. [11] [12] The rattlesnakes defense and hunting mechanisms are bounded to its physiology and its environment. More importantly environmental temperature can influence the ability of ectotherms. [13] The prey is killed quickly with a venomous bite as opposed to constriction. If the bitten prey moves away before dying, the rattlesnake can follow it by its scent. [14] [15] When it locates the fallen prey, it checks for signs of life by prodding with its snout, flicking its tongue, and using its sense of smell. Once the prey has become incapacitated, the rattlesnake locates its head by odors emitted from the mouth. The prey is then ingested head-first, which allows wings and limbs to fold at the joints in a manner which minimizes the girth of the meal. [16] The gastric fluids of rattlesnakes are extremely powerful, allowing for the digestion of flesh, as well as bone. Optimal digestion occurs when the snake maintains a body temperature between 80 and 85 ° F (25 and 29 ° C). If the prey is small, the rattlesnake often continues hunting. If it was an adequate meal, the snake finds a warm, safe location in which to coil up and rest until the prey is digested. [17]

Hydration Edit

Rattlesnakes are believed to require at least their own body weight in water annually to remain hydrated. The method in which they drink depends on the water source. In larger bodies of water (streams, ponds, etc.), they submerge their heads and ingest water by opening and closing their jaws, which sucks in water. If drinking dew, or drinking from small puddles, they sip the liquid either by capillary action or by flattening and flooding their lower jaws. [18]

Predators Edit

Newborn rattlesnakes are heavily preyed upon by a variety of species, including ravens, crows, roadrunners, raccoons, opossums, skunks, coyotes, weasels, whipsnakes, kingsnakes, and racers. Neonates of the smaller crotaline species are frequently killed and eaten by small predatory birds such as jays, kingfishers, and shrikes. Some species of ants in the genus Ant are known to prey upon neonates, and Solenopsis invicta (fire ants) likely do, as well. On occasion, hungry adult rattlesnakes cannibalize neonates. The small proportion (often as few as 20%) of rattlesnakes that make it to their second year are heavily preyed upon by a variety of larger predators including coyotes, eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, feral pigs, badgers, indigo snakes, and kingsnakes. [19]

The common kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula), a constrictor, is immune to the venom of rattlesnakes and other vipers, and rattlesnakes form part of its natural diet. Rattlesnakes sense kingsnakes' presence by their odor. [20] When they realize a kingsnake is nearby, they begin enacting a set of defensive postures known as "body bridging". Unlike its normal erect and coiled defensive-striking posture, the rattlesnake keeps its head low to the ground in an attempt to prevent the kingsnake from gaining a hold on it (the head being the first part of the rattlesnake to be ingested). The rattlesnake jerks its body about, while bridging its back upwards, forming an elevated coil which faces the kingsnake. The elevated coil is used to strike the attacker, and is also used to shield the head from the kingsnake. [21]

Sensory organs Edit

Like all pit vipers, rattlesnakes have two organs that can sense radiation: their eyes, and a set of heat-sensing "pits" on their faces that enable them to locate prey and move towards it, based on the prey's thermal radiation signature. These pits have a relatively short effective range of about 1 ft, but give the rattlesnake a distinctive advantage in hunting for warm-blooded creatures at night. [22] [23]


The poison of the Crotalus adamanteus is very toxic, with an intravenous LD50 of 1.65 mg / kg.

This kind of rattlesnake moreover, it is able to inoculate large amounts of poison. There quantity average of poison that this reptile is capable of producing is among the 370 and of 720 mg. The largest specimens can come to produce from 800 ai 1,000 mg!

It's a hemotoxic poison is myotoxic, that is severe bleeding and extensive necrosis. It also contains a peptide that prevents neuromuscular transmission and can therefore lead to heart failure.

The mortality rate because of bite of the Crotalus adamanteus he was born in 40%.


THE symptoms local poisoning is intense pain, extensive swelling, bruises, blisters, profuse bleeding from the wound and discoloration of the limb that was bitten.

THE symptoms more serious are:

  • Headache and weakness
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Necrosis
  • Dizziness
  • Hypotension
  • Hemorrhages
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Convulsions and fasciculation
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Weak pulse
  • Paresthesia
  • Collapse
  • Heart failure

There death occurs due to haemorrhage or cardiac arrest.

Drinks that are Kosher for Easter

During Passover, Jews are prohibited from eating five grains: wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelled. Many traditional Jews of Eastern European descent also do not eat "kitniyot" during Passover, which includes legumes, rice, corn and soybeans. For a drink to be kosher for Passover, it must not contain any of these ingredients, and for strictly observant Jews, it must be certified kosher for Passover by a Kashrut authority.

Drinking wine is part of the Easter ritual.

Wine does not contain banned grains, so it is kosher for Easter by its nature. In reality, Jews drink at four different places on the Passover seder. A strictly observant Jew will choose wines that have been certified by an authority as kosher for Easter, such as Manischewitz, the more familiar brand of seder wine. Manischewitz is very sweet, and people who prefer a drier wine may choose to look elsewhere. Enogastronomia recommends Château Malartic-Lagravière for a red wine, Yarden Odem Chardonnay for whites and NV Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut for champagne.


The usual ingredients of the beer make it unkosher for Easter.

Unlike wine, beer is usually not kosher for Easter. It is produced from barley or wheat, which are among the five banned cereals. It is possible, however, to find kosher for Easter beers. Ramapo Valley Brewery in New York makes a grain-free, barley-free beer from fermented honey that is certified for use at Easter. This beer is unusual though, and Jews don't normally drink any variety of beer during Passover.


Gin is usually not kosher for Easter.

Many types of liquor are made from grains or corn, which makes them unsuitable for use on Easter. With sufficient ingenuity, however, brewers are able to tailor their recipes for the holiday. Distillery No. 209 in San Francisco makes a kosher gin for Easter, using sugar cane alcohol instead of grain alcohol and replacing forbidden flavors with acceptable herbs. Slivovitz plum brandy is common in Seders. Crystal head vodka is kosher for Easter, as is Casa Noble Tequila.

Alcohol-free drinks

Kosher for Easter soda is available to those who know where to look.

Soft drinks and fruit juices typically aren't kosher for Easter, unless they're made specifically for the holiday. Most soft drinks are sweetened with corn syrup, and since Eastern European Jews don't eat corn at Easter, they are therefore not PASSOVER certified. Sodas also often contain ethyl alcohol in small amounts as a food coloring. Kosher for Easter sodas are available - Coca Cola and Pepsi use special Easter recipes in the spring - and kosher companies like Kedem and Manischewitz sell certified Easter juices.


According to the IUCN red list, there is minimal concern forextinction of this kind of rattlesnake. This is probably because, given thewide diffusion, it is assumed that many specimens exist in nature.

In fact, according to some scholars, the population of these reptiles already has reduced very much compared to 2007. For this reason, its condition is currently under review in order to be added to the list of endangered species of extinction.

Urban and agricultural expansion is devouring thenatural habitat of this species. Also humans kill this rattlesnake on sight, because it is very scary.

The Crotalus adamanteus adult, given its considerable size, it has no natural predators.

The little ones, on the other hand, often come preyed upon from foxes, hawks, eagles and also from other snakes.

In Louisiana this species may have become extinct since the last sighting dates back to 1995. In North Carolina the Crotalus adamanteus is protected by the law. In Florida you need to have a permit to hold this rattlesnake in captivity.

Video: Western diamondback rattlesnake Crotalus atrox, defensive rattling, Arizona, USA