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!