SOUTHWESTERN SPECKLED RATTLESNAKE
SPECIES NAMECrotalus mitchellii pyrrhus
RISK TO HUMANSHighly venomous
DISTRIBUTIONSouthern and Southeastern California
This is a medium sized snake, with the head appearing gray on the sides and contrast with the brownish on the top. Coloration of the rest of the body harmonizes with the habitat and can range from off-white, yellowish, gray, tan, pinkish, and pale orange to brown. Patterns consist of dark speckled banded markings across the entirety of the body, with black and ash-gray rings surrounding the tail near the rattle. Adult lengths range from 23-52 inches, averaging 2-3.5 feet.
Commonly found throughout southern and southeastern California. Inhabits mostly arid areas alongside buttes, mesas, and desert outcroppings that are vegetated by sagebrush, creosote, thornscrub, chaparral, pinon-juniper woodland, and succulent desert.
Specializes in small mammals including mice, rats, rabbits, and gophers. Secondary prey includes ground dwelling birds, lizards, and other small animals.
Typically unaggressive. Prefers to remain motionless and quiet as first line of defense, but will coil and rattle if threatened or move away from threats. May strike and bite if provoked or startled. Primarily nocturnal during periods of excessive high heat but active in the early daytime hours when the temperatures are cooler and moderate. Mating occurs in the spring with 2-12 live young born between July and August. Neonates measure 8.5-10.5 inches at birth.