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The latin name for the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is Crotalus Atrox. It’s the second biggest rattlesnake in North America and it’s closely related to the viper-family. The adults usually measure from 30 to 72 inches. The biggest Western Diamondback ever measured was 87½ inches.
The Western Diamondback got its name from the pattern on its back that contains 25 to 45 brown, diamondshaped markings. It is (luckily) easy to identify by the three to eight alternating black and white rings on its tail, right above the rattle. The colorations vary from greyish to brown and red. There has also been found albinos, but this is rather rare.
The rattle may have up to 18, thin ”hornrings”. These are rests from earlier skinchanges. The rattle usually have a yellow/brown color. When this snake rattles, you can really hear it!
The Western Diamondback has a widespread range. This species can be found from central Arkansas, across Southern Oklahoma, most of Texas and the southern parts of Arizona and California. Sometimes, when it’s pretty cold in USA, it can also be found in Mexico, as far south as Mexico City.
It’s not enough that this snake has a wide range, it has also a very varied habitat. It’s found in the lowlands and praries and up to elevations of 5000 feet and more, but it’s mostly been found in deserts, rocky cliffs and at the bottom of canyons. It’s not a very good swimmer, but it has actually been seen in the ocean outside San Diego!
Courtship and breeding of The Western Diamondback occur between March and May, but there have been rapports of breeding in the fall months as well. A female will normally give birth to six to twelve youngsters during the summer, but occasionally the number can exceed twenty. The youngsters measure from nine to thirteen inches at birth.
The Western Diamondback mostly feeds on rabbits, gophers, ground squirrels, moles, rats and mice, but it can also hunt down something bigger, such as cats and small dogs.
What’s its behavior you say? Well, this is a very agressive snake, and it doesn’t always rattle before it strikes. But you are not in danger if you don’t disturb or molest the snake. When it feels threatened, it takes a defensive ”S”-position. This makes the snake capable of striking more than half the length of its body. All rattlesnakes have thin, knife-sharp teeth and strike fast and powerful. If you get bitten, you better get anti-venom as fast as possible, if not, the bite can cause serious tissue-damage, paralyzis or even death!
Even though the rattlesnakes are the most feared animals in USA, they have almost been extincted. It wasn’t until recently they got they’re own saving-program: ”Save The Rattlesnakes NOW”.
Due to its large size, strong venom, aggressive behavior and widespread range, the Western Diamondback easily rates as one of the most dangerous snakes in the world, and it’s responsible for more serious snake bites and fatalities in USA than any other species. But this doesn’t stop peoples fascination of this beautiful and elegant snake.
I chose to have about The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake because I saw a show about it on Animal Planet about a month ago, and I thought it was very interesting!