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Rattlesnakes Of The Southwest

Rattlesnakes of the Southwest Rattlesnakes are very common in North America; they mainly range from Arkansas to Southern California. Rattlesnakes as most people known use a rattle, located at the ends of their tail, to warn people of their location. Rattlesnakes are from the Pit Viper family of snakes. They use pits located in their head to sense heat from prey or predators. Some rattlesnakes can sense heat from a mouse from as far as twelve feet away. Some common rattlers of the southwest are the Western Diamondback, Mohave, Sidewinder, and Prairie Rattlesnakes. All snakes listed are of the Genus Crotalus; which is the most common among rattlesnakes. Western Diamondbacks are the most common and most likely to come in contact with people. It has the widest geographic range, ranging from Arkansas to Southern California and into Northern Mexico. It is the largest rattlesnake in the southwest, attaining lengths of up to six feet. It also packs the most venom; normal yield is normally around 200-300 mg. A dose of 100 mg is usually lethal to humans, although most bites are defensive and venom is not injected. These snakes are very difficult to see because they blend in so well with their surroundings. They commonly have about ten rattles at 5 to 6 years of age. Mohave, sometimes referred to as Three-Stepper, are the second most common rattlers in the southwest. The main factor of the Mohave Rattlesnake is that it is the most venomous snake in this family. It’s normal yield is only 50-90mg, but a lethal dose is only 10-15 mg. The Mohave’s venom is a neurotoxin, which is twenty times more toxic than the Western Diamondback. The main tale-tale sign of the Mohave is that it is green in color. The reason for this is so it can hunt in trees; where it lies in wait to ambush small birds. The Mohave contributes to the most deaths in the southwest than any other rattler. Mohave Rattlesnakes are considered a non-aggressive rattlesnake, but yet as mentioned before they are the most venomous rattlesnakes, comparable to cobras. Sidewinders are the most intriguing of all rattlesnakes. They zip across sand leaving a side-winding trail behind. The reason they wind is to minimize the amount of their body that comes in contact with the ground; which is normally sand and very hot to the touch. If Sidewinders did not use this method of winding their body temperature would get to high. Sidewinders yield a small amount of venom, normally about 20-35 mg. A lethal dose is around 50 mg, which most Sidewinders are incapable of carrying. There are one species of and two subspecies of Sidewinder Rattlesnakes, the Colorado Sidewinder, The Sonoran Sidewinder and the Desert Sidewinder. Prairie Rattlesnakes (also known as Western Rattlesnakes) have subspecies as well; they include the Grand Canyon Rattlesnake, the Hopi Rattlesnake, the Arizona Black Rattlesnake, and the Great Basin Rattlesnake. These snakes are mainly found in or around Arizona. The Arizona Black is normally found at elevations above 6000 feet. They are black in color, which helps them to absorb heat to maintain body temperature. These snakes commonly yield about 75-160 mg of venom. The lethal dose is about the same as their yield. Rattlesnakes are a very necessary part of nature. Without them rodents would overrun and maybe even takeover most of the rattlers normal habitat as well as human habitats. Most rattlesnake bite victims, approximately 90%, are doing something to the snake they should not be doing. Ten percent of bites are considered legitimate bites, which normally occur by someone stepping on the snake.

Bibliography

http://www.atasteofeldorado.com/rattlesnakes.html http://www.venomousreptiles.org Jacobs, James Q. Rattlesnakes of Arizona, http:// www.geocities.com

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