Western Diamond Back Rattlesnake
(Crotalus atrox)

The Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake, Crotalus adamanteus, is the largest species with a maximum length of 97 inches. The second largest species is the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Crotalus atrox, which measures up to 88 inches in length. Due to its large size, powerful venom, aggressive disposition and widespread range, the Western Diamondback rattlesnake is noted as one of the most dangerous snakes in the world. It is responsible for more serious snakebites and fatalities in Texas than any other species.

They are easily identified by 3 to 8 alternating black and white rings on their tail prior to the rattle. Melanism is an overproduction of the pigment melanin, resulting in animals that are entirely, or nearly, all-black. They can range from brown, gray to almost all black and have 24 to 45 dark brown diamond-shaped markings patterned down the center of the back. Each of these diamonds is outlined in a lighter color. They have large triangular shaped heads with a heavy, muscular body.

The Western Diamondback has a very wide range where it can be found; (regions of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, California, Mexico). They can be found in almost every part of Texas. They can be located in prairies, lowlands and elevations of 5,000 feet or more. They are at home in the desert, rocky cliffs and canyon bottoms, coastal sand dunes and there have been sightings of them swimming in bays along the coast.

Their prey consists of rabbits, moles, gophers, squirrels, rats & mice. It is a very aggressive snake that will stand its ground when disturbed. When alarmed they will raise their head and loop their neck up high above their coils giving them a better position to strike from. These snakes when in this position are capable of striking more than half the length of its body.

Breeding normally occurs between March and May. On the average a female will give birth to 6 to 12 young during the summer and can have up to 20 young. The young measure from 9 to 13 inches in length at birth.


Prairie Rattlesnake
(Crotalus viridus viridus)

The Prairie Rattlesnake lives predominantly in the panhandle grasslands and can occasionally be found in the Trans-Pecos, the prairies of North America, and the eastern half of North America. Most rattlesnakes live in dry desert areas, grassy plains, and rocky hills.

It is a slender, medium-sized snake that has round, brown vertebral blotches trimmed in dark brown that transverse to crossbars on the trunk with a banded brown and tan tail. It is very rare due to its unusual pattern. Some have a blotchy, uneven pattern that is called piebald or calico.


Timber Rattlesnake
(Crotalus horridus)

Belonging to the viper family (Viperidae). Crotalus horridus is no longer separated into subspecies. The southeastern population of the Timber rattlesnake is distinctly patterned and is often referred to as the Canebrake rattlesnake. The most recent version of Crother (2000) does not recognize the subspecies Crotalus horridus atricaudatus.

The southeastern population, known as the (Canebrake rattlesnake), is on the state endangered list, while the mountainous population (Timber rattlesnake) is not. The southeastern population continues to be referenced as the "Canebrake rattlesnake" in a separate account, although its common name is officially now the Timber rattlesnake, (both being the same species).

The specific name horridus is Latin for dreadful, referring to the venomous nature of this snake. This species is also known as the banded rattlesnake.

The northern population has unmarked heads and range in color from brown, gray, yellow and even black, with dark backs and side blotches on the front of its body and blotches fused to form crossbands on the lower portion of its body. The southern population ranges from a brownish, yellowish or pinkish-gray, with a tan or rusty-brown back stripe dividing its crossbands and has a dark stripe behind its eyes.

These snakes are active during the day in spring and fall, at night in the summer and burrow in for the winter months.

They have a heat-sensitive sensory organ on each side of their heads that enables them to locate warm-blooded prey and strike with amazing accuracy, even in the dark. Rattlesnakes have two retractable fangs that quickly spring into action when they are attacking their prey. Mice, rats, squirrel, rabbits, bats and other small mammals, and even occasionally birds make up their diet. After striking, they follow the scent of the venom to the prey and swallow it whole.

They mate in the spring and produce litters every other year giving live birth to approximately 10 young. Their young are venomous at birth.

Their range is anywhere from extreme s.w. Maine, south to n. Florida, west into se. Minnesota and c. Texas.

Pit vipers are never safe to handle. Even dead ones can retain some neurological reflexes. Amazinlgy even road-kill has been known to bite!


Western Pygmy Rattlesnake or Ground Rattler
(Sistrurus miliarius streckeri)

There are three subspecies of the Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius). Only one of these subspecies, the Western Pygmy Rattlesnake also known as the Ground Rattler (Sistrurus miliarius streckeri), is present in Texas. Its range covers the woodlands and pines in the most eastern portions of Texas.

As seen in the photo, they are a small, unique rattlesnake. You can identify them by their extremely tiny rattle, short tail, and a rusty colored vertebral stripe that stands out from their light gray dorsal background. They have small, dark, irregular vertebral blotches that run the length of their body. They can look like cross-bands instead of blotches because the blotches are usually wider than long. You may notice one to two rows of dark spots, with a mottled underside. Adults measure 15-20 inches in length, and are one of the smallest rattlesnakes in the U.S.

The venomous Ground Snake can be confused with many other snakes in Texas that are non-venomous. To distinguish the difference between them simply check for a rattle. Since their rattle is so tiny you may not be able to see it easily.


Northern Blacktail, Green, Velvet-tail," or "Dog-faced" Rattlesnake
(Crotalus molossus molossus)

The Northern Blacktail Rattlesnake can be located in heavily wooded canyons and mountains in West Texas. They occasionally have an olive like coloration, however, are normally brown or silvery gray. They have a dark mask, and along the spine a wide, dark, blackish-brown stripe that encloses patches of light scales and have a sooty colored tail just before the rattle.


Mojave Rattlesnake
(Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus)

The Mojave Rattlesnake is mostly known as a Mexican viper. It can be found along the Rio Grande west of the Big Bend. They can be mistaken for the Western Diamond Back, although you can distinguish them by the two or three rows of enlarged scales that line the center of its fore-crown. (Diamondbacks have four or more rows of much smaller scales in this area).


Mottled Rock Rattlesnake
(Crotalus lepidus lepidus)

The Mottled Rock rattlesnake is found in the far southeast corner of New Mexico, southwestern Texas and south to central Mexico. They are common in canyons, deserts, and evergreen mountain terrain. It has evolved in coloration over time to where it blends in with its environment. Their dorsal is pinkish with pale gray blotches throughout with a russet striped pattern running down its body.

It is unlawful to capture or keep this species without written authorization.

This snake gives live birth to an average of four babies in a litter.


Banded Rock Rattlesnake
(Crotalus lepidus klauberi)

The Banded Rock Rattlesnake is a black-cross banded subspecies found solely in the two westernmost counties of Texas. These snakes are protected from capture by state law because of their unusual pigmentation that makes them popular to possess.

Most adults are less than 2 feet long. The largest recorded was 32.58 inches in length. The Banded Rock rattler is similar to the Mottled rattler in appearance. It appears in a variety of background colors anywhere from bluish green, bluish gray, or tan. It is differentiated in appearance from the Mottled rattlesnake because it does not have dark blotches or secondary cross bands between the primary markings. It also does not have the dark cheek stripe or it is not noticeable in adults.

Their diet consists of lizards, small rodents, small snakes and frogs.

A small amount of venom is delivered in a single strike and so it is insufficient to kill an adult person, however, this may vary in individual circumstances.


Western Massasauga Rattlesnake
(Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus)

The Western Massasauga is a small, nocturnal, rattlesnake that is normally found in the Gulf Coast of Texas. It has closely spaced brownish dorsolateral blotches and a slender head capped with nine plates on the crown. This rattler's venom is less potent than others, although should be respected, as it is a venomous snake. Their size ranges from 18-26 inches. This snake is rarely spotted due to it being nocturnal, however, has been seen crossing roads in the evening.

Its diet consists of lizards, small snakes, frogs, mice, shrews and other small mammals.

The Western Massasauga's venom is hemorrhagic. This causes disintegration of the tissue. It also impairs the blood clotting and damages the walls of small blood vessels.


Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake
(Sistrurus catenatus edwardsi)

The Desert Massasauga is a Northwest and South Texas snake. rattlers such as the Massasauga and Pygmy are thought to be less evolved due to their small rattle and the large cephalic plates.

In Texas it is known to prey on various small mammals and lizards and white-footed mice.

Since neither the snake's venom yield nor lethal toxicity has been studied, little is known about their effects. Just the fact that it is a rattler should be enough to be cautious.