Species group: Rattlesnakes and Other Vipers
Other common names: Barbour’s Rattlesnake; Florida Ground Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Sistrurus miliarius barbouri
This attractively-colored venomous snake is quite small, and sometimes tempts private snake keepers to try their hand at venomous snake care. However, as is true for all venomous species , the Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake should be enjoyed only in zoos or the wild.
The Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake is native to the Southeastern United States, where it ranges from southern South Carolina to the Florida Keys and west to southeastern Mississippi.
Typical habitats include sandy, open pine and scrub oak forest, palmetto woods, Everglades prairie, and moist, overgrown fields.
Appearance / health:
The background color is dark gray and marked with 3 rows of dark lateral spots and a reddish-brown dorsal stripe. Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnakes top out at 12-24 inches in length, with a record of 31 inches.
Zoo specimens are generally hardy and have lived to age 15+.
Behavior / temperament:
Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnakes face many predators in the wild and tend to remain defensive or shy and retiring in zoos.
Venomous snake species are not suitable as pets in private collections. It is impossible for a private snake owner to adequately prepare for or treat a venomous snakebite, or, prior to a bite, to arrange for treatment in a hospital.
The natural diet includes harvest mice, young chipmunks, crickets, and other large insects, lizards, salamanders and frogs. Zoo specimens are fed small mice.
Females give birth to 2-32 live young in July-September. Pygmy Rattlesnakes are 4-7.5 inches long at birth.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
moderately toxic venom, extreme caution, private collections, venomous
starter hot snakes, modest price tag
Small - but Still Dangerous!
I’ve had the good fortune to work with Dusky Pygmy Rattlers in zoos for decades but, fascinating though they are, I feel strongly that they should never be kept in private collections. Unfortunately, their small size and modest price tag leads some to label them as “ideal starter hot snakes”. Please ignore such advice!
Snake venom is constantly evolving in response to prey animal defenses, and we know little about the toxins produced by many species. Due to these facts, and because individual sensitivities and other factors can greatly affect one’s reaction to a bite, even those species that are sometimes referred to as “mildly venomous” must be considered as capable of causing human fatalities. It is impossible for a private snake owner to adequately prepare for or treat a venomous snakebite. This, or a related species, can easily be viewed in most any major zoo – please limit your rattlesnake “interactions” to zoo visits, or seek employment as a zookeeper or herpetologist if you have a serious interest..
From findiviglio Jan 4 2016 9:53PM