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Content including photographs are Copyright ©  2014 - Presert - Don & Linda Gilmore

Snakes

What to Do   if you're bitten by a venomous snake - good information!

Photographing Snakes
   If you're going to go out and look for snakes in the desert there are a few precautions you can take to increase safety. This is serious business and shouldn't be taken lightly. Using snake chaps and a camera with a remote release and an extension for the camera is a good idea. The desert can be a remote place and safety when interacting with potentially dangerous wildlife should be considered. Some reptiles are very slow moving and docile in appearance. Don't let that fool you, they can move fast! Most will try to get away when confronted, but some will stand their ground and defend themselves against what they perceive as a threat. Having a partner to hold a light and keep an eye out for you is also very helpful.

Photographing Snakes:

Venomous Snakes

Mojave Rattlesnake

(Crotalus scutulatus)

   This is a Mojave Green a little over 4 ft. long. In Southern California Mojaves are frequently referred to as Mojave Greens. This was a very healthy snake. He wouldn't back up or try to get away. Instead he retained a defensive posture until I made like I was leaving. A green color Mojave is unusual throughout the majority of the range they inhabit, as most Mojaves are brown to tan in color. Green colored Mojave tends to be localized to certain geographic regions.
Length -- 2 to 4 ft. long.
Mojave Green Rattlesnake

Sidewinder

(Crotalus cerastes)

   Here's the Sidewinder Rattlesnake. This one was normal for size, about 16 inches long. You can tell a Sidewinder when you run into them in the desert by the little horns above the eyes. One thought is that the horns help to protect the eyes. They are usually not defensive when encountered, but I did have one that got a little antsy and came right at me. See enlargement for more detail.
Length -- 17 to 30 inches long.
Sidewinder
   This Sidewinder was over 20 inches long and had 11 segments on its rattle, identifying it as an older snake. It looked very healthy and was in a hurry to get away from us. Sidewinders leave a stepped track in the sand because the entire body doesn't remain in contact with the ground when they move. One of them took off one night and shot straight across the road traveling like a Diamondback would -- not sidewinding like you'd expect them to do.
Sidewinder
Western Diamondback

Western Diamondback

(Crotalus atrox)

   Yes, snakes can swim. This Western Diamondback swam quite a ways up this canal in the desert looking for a place where it could get out. Lucky for him, I got a long stick and gave him a hand. He could have drowned; The enlarged image shows a 4.5 ft. long Diamondback on a road. 
Length -- 3 to 7 ft. long.
   The Western Diamondback is a snake you'll likely run into in the desert. These Rattlesnakes can get really big' although the biggest one we ever saw was 4 1/2 ft. long. At that size they have a very thick and strong looking body. Usually slow moving they can turn in an instant, quicker than you can imagine. This photo was taken in Hidalgo County, New Mesico

Night Snake

(Hypsiglena chlorophaea)

   Here's an interesting snake -- the Night Snake. Venomous, yet not dangerous to people. Their fangs are located in the back of their mouths, they are extremely reluctant to bite, and with their small size, small mouth and location of their fangs it would be hard to inflict a bite on a person. They mostly eat lizards and other small animals.
Length -- 12 to 26 inches long.
Night Snake

Prairie Rattlesnake

Prairie Rattlesnake

(Crotalus viridis)

   Here's one that was really defensive, didn't hesitate to strike. It's the Prairie Rattlesnake. This snake often has noticable stripes on the scales above the eyes that forn a "V" shape. They are reputed to be bad tempered. So if your not familiar with handling or being near a snake in the desert, leave this one alone.
Length -- 35 to 40 inches long.
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

Southern Pacific

(Crotalus helleri)

   The Southern Pacific rattlesnake is found coastally in Southern California and Baja, but reaches inland into the desert in certain areas. Males, as with most snakes, have longer tails than females. Southern Pacifics have been know to aggressively defend themselves but, as with most snakes, will choose to flee if they have a route of escape. Color variations occur. This snake can cause great tissue damage. They can live several decades.
Length - 16 to 64 inches long.

Black-tailed Rattlesnake

(Crotalus molossus)

   This is Crotalus molossus, the Black-tailed rattlesnake. Range: from low-elevation deserts in western AZ, north to the west end of the Grand Canyon, and southeast along the Mogollon Rim, including desert and sky island ranges to the south to near the Rio Grande with the similar-looking "Crotalus ornatus"  occurring further east in NM and TX. This is a rattlesnake that lives mostly in rocky habitats, avoiding grasslands and barren desert. We encountered one in the desert and because of its defensive display we were unable to get a good photo of him. It is however reputed to be a non-aggressive rattlesnake. The close-up to the right below shows how the snake got its name, black-tailed. Lives from sea level to around 9,600 ft. elev.
Length - 28 to 49 inches long.

Both photos courtesy of Martin Feldner

Black-tailed Rattlesnake
Black-tailed Rattlesnake

Photo courtesy of Martin Feldner

Information on this page,
verified by Martin Feldner, Herpetologist.

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Page 2   More venomous Snakes

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Arizona Coral Snake

Photo courtesy of Martin Feldner

Arizona Coral Snake

   This ground dwelling snake is mostly nocturnal. Its venom is very deadly as it's in the same family as mambas, cobras, kraits, and taipans. However it is very small so bites are very un-common. Don't try to handle this snake. Found mostly in Southern Arizona.
Length - up to 24 inches.

(Micruroides euryxanthus)

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   We've run into these rattlesnakes several times in the desert near the Nevada / Utah border in the Great Basin. This snake photo was taken in Ada County, Idaho. They seem to like hiding under rocks.

"Crotalus lutosus"

Great Basin Rattlesnake

   Short video of the Great Basin Rattlesnake after it climbed out from under the big flat rock. Very pretty snake with his new skin. We video taped this snake just west of Cedar City, Utah in the mountains. 

Shedding, Blindness

    "Once snakes shed, as long as they shed the clear scale that covers the eye, they once again have their normal eyesight. It's really only during the period leading up to shedding that a snake's eyesight is significantly diminished. This happens due to a fluid build up between the old eye scale and the one to replace it. If a snake doesn't shed the scale covering its eye its eyesight might be slightly reduced from having to look through two clear scales but not reduced to near the level when the fluid is present (what is often referred to as when a snake is in the "blue") prior to shedding".

Martin Feldner, Herpetologist

Photo courtesy of Bryan D. Hughes

About our snake pages:  We have begun to cover areas outside of areas in the desert. By this we mean we now cover the mountains adjacent to the lower elevations of what most would consider in the desert.

Photo courtesy of Bryan D. Hughes

Page 3  Non - venomous Snakes

Visit Bryan D. Hughes web site HERE

Visit Bryan D. Hughes web site HERE

Snake Behavior

    Are all snakes aggressive or just defensive? Are they just bad tempered? Or do they just want to be left alone? Here's something for you to think about!
   Also included is information on the different types fo venom and what this means to you if you get bitten. What might it cost you if you do get bitten? This might surprise you.
Mojave Rattlesnake
Mojave Rattlesnake

Photo courtesy of Greg Watson

Photo courtesy of Greg Watson

   The next two photos were taken near Ridgecrest, California. They show 2 more of the different colorations that can seen in the Mojave Rattlesnake. Throughout the majority of their range tans and browns are considerably more common then greens, like this one to the right. See more about this snake naming below.
   The common name as currently accepted by some organizations is "Nothern Mohave Rattlesnake". This is actually a poor choice of names given the distribution, which is in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts. They do not live exclusively in the Northern Mojave desert. Also the spelling of "Mohave" is incorrect. It has been spelled with a "j" for the last 100 years.
View these in a larger size for more detail!
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