Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

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Is the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Texas Diamond-back; Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake; Desert Diamond-back Rattlesnake

Scientific name: Crotalus atrox

The basics:
Often common, and with a propensity for hunting rodents in the vicinity of populated areas, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is responsible for more human fatalities than any other North American serpent. Although it will seek to escape if given the chance, this feisty creature puts up a vigorous defense when cornered, injecting large quantities of potent venom with its bite - obviously not a creature that should ever be kept as a “pet”!

The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake’s range extends from southeastern California, USA, east and south to Arkansas and northern Mexico.

It is found over a wide range of habitats, including arid plains, deserts, rocky canyons, riverine thickets, open forests, farms, and vacant urban and suburban lots.

Appearance / health:
This heavy-bodied snake varies in color from gray to yellowish-brown, reddish-pink, and near-black. The body is marked with dark diamonds or hexagonal blotches and black spots, and the tail is ringed with bands of black and white. The Western Diamondback reaches 1.2 - 2.1 meters (4-7 Ft) in length.

Zoo specimens are generally hardy and have approached 30 years of age.

Behavior / temperament:
Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes remain high strung and difficult to work with despite years in captivity.

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 prairie dogs, ground squirrels, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, and other small mammals, lizards, and birds. Zoo specimens fare well on a diet of rats and mice.

Females give birth to 4-25 live young, which range in length from 20-33 cm (8-13 in), in late summer.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


beauty, incredible display animal


extreme dangers, death wish, rattlesnake fatalities, venomous species, tightly sealed screen


ambush, crotalid snakes vipers, blood clotting agents, expert herpetologists

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