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Western diamondback rattlesnake

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Western diamondback rattlesnake
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Crotalus atrox

The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
A Western Diamondback .jpg

The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is a species of rattlesnake found in the Southwestern United States and down into parts of Mexico.[1] The average length is 3-4 feet long, but some specimens are found up to 5 feet long.[1] The snake is responsible for the more deaths in North America than any other snake.[1] They are mainly nocturnal snakes. They reproduce sexually in the spring and give birth to 9-14 young snakes in the late summer months. In the late fall they will all go into a den to nest together during the winter months.[2]

Contents

Anatomy

A Western Diamondback Rattlesnake being measured

The Western Diamondback has an average length of about 3-4 feet. They are found as big as 5 feet, the largest recorded Western Diamondback was 95.5 inches long.[3] The male will grow larger than the female, this occurs when the snakes are fully sexually mature.[4] They come in many different colors depending on their location. They come in colors such as red, yellow, pink, and brownish color. [5] It has a head that is shaped almost like a spade. It has an organ on his head that can detect heat so that even in the animals den the Western Diamond back Rattlesnake can find and kill its prey. It has fangs that are equipped with poisonous venom. The Western Diamondback is even equipped with a set of extra fangs just in case the other fangs come out. The rattle is made out of excess keratin left over after the snake molts. The snake will add 2 or 3 rattles a year, however throughout the course of the year the snake may lose a few of its rattlers. The snake uses the rattler to warn unwanted foes that it is there.[6]

Reproduction

The Western Diamondback Rattle Snake reproduces sexually in the spring months. The reproduction process starts with the male pursuing a female extensively during the mating season. [7] If two males come across a potential mate the two will wrap themselves around each other and begin to wrestle. The winner of the fight will then have the right to mate with the disputed female.[8] The mother will give live birth to 9-14 young rattlesnakes in the late summer months. The rattle snakes are born poisonous with their venom, this is because the mother abandons the young snakes at birth.[9][10]

Ecology

The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

The diamondback lives throughout the southwestern United States. It ranges from Arkansas to southern California, it has even been reported as far as Baja California. It lives in dry areas such as rocky canyons, desert and grasslands.[11]The Diamondback will eat rats, mice, the cotton tail rabbit, squirrels,[12] lizards, birds and even occasionally a fish. It will find these prey by using their Jacobson's Organ which the snake uses to detect chemicals in the air. The Diamondback is preyed upon by several birds of prey including roadrunners, eagles, hawks, and even wild turkeys.[13] The Diamondback in usually nocturnal but are active during the day during the spring months because it is cooler during the day. The snake has been known to come out in the late afternoon to early evening to sit in the sun.[14] When the temperature begins to drop in the fall, the Western Diamondback does something known as denning. Denning is when a large amount of Diamondbacks will gather together in a den by the dozens to even the hundreds for the winter. The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake will use its rattle to warn enemies of that it is there and ready to strike.[15]

The Western Diamondback's Venom

The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake's venom is not extremely toxic; however the amount of the venom can make this snake very dangerous. The amount of venom depends on the size of the snake. The Western Diamondback has the ability to control the amount of venom that it releases so that the snake does not have to release all of its venom in a single bite.[16] The Western Diamondback is responsible for more fatalities than any other snake in North America.[1] Most attacks on humans are caused by a person either trying to kill or capture the snake.[17] Depending on the amount of venom injected into a person, the bite can prove fatal if medical attention is not given soon enough after the bite.[18]

Gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Klauber, Laurence M., 1982. Rattlesnakes. University of California Press
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