Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
- Heavy-bodied snake with a distinctive triangular-shaped head.
- Has two dark diagonal lines running from its eyes to its jaws.
- They have two long tubular fangs, characteristic of venomous snakes.
- Dark diamond-shaped patterns along its back (hence its name).
- The tail has black and white striped bands just above the terminal rattle.
- Diamondbacks are normally 3-5 feet in length but can be up to 7 feet long.
- California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and northern Mexico.
- Live in grasslands, deserts, forests, rocky hillsides, and areas along the coast.
- Live in elevation from sea level to 6500 feet.
- Rattlesnakes are sexually mature at 3 years old.
- Mating occurs in early spring after they emerge from hibernation.
- Gestation lasts for 167 days before the mother gives birth to 10-20 live young.
- Rattlesnake babies are developed inside a thin egg membrane inside their mother. They pierce the membrane just before birth and are born alive.
- The young only stay with their mother for a few hours to a day before venturing out on their own.
- Mice, rats, rabbits, gophers, ground-dwelling birds, and lizards.
- Eagles, hawks, roadrunners, kingsnakes, coyotes, bobcats, and foxes eat diamondback rattlesnakes for food.
- Cows, deer, horse, and antelope do not eat rattlesnakes but see them as a threat and try to trample them.
- Diamondbacks are pit vipers, meaning they have heat-sensing pits behind their nostrils that allow them to detect differences in temperature, sometimes down to a fraction of a degree. These differences in temperature help them determine predators from prey!
- Diamondbacks can shake their rattles back and forth at a rate of 60 or more times per second.
- Every time a rattlesnake sheds, they add a new segment to their rattle.
Sources: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum; Washington Nature Mapping Program
Photo: Matthew Meier
If you hear this noise on a trail, immediately stop and look around! There’s a western diamondback rattlesnake somewhere near you!