Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

COMMON NAME: Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Crotalus viridis oreganus

DESCRIPTION:
VENOMOUS

Also called the Hopi rattlesnake, the northern pacific rattlesnake is the most widely distributed venomous reptile in California. One of the nine subspecies of the western rattlesnake, the northern pacific is green, yellowish, grey, brown, or black in coloration with contrasting blotches. A light stripe extends from behind the eye to the corner of the mouth.
They are usually 15-65″ in length.

LIFE HISTORY:
Mating occurs from late summer to early fall. 4-12 live young are born in August to October after a 90-110 day gestation. Young are 6-12″ in length and are immediately expected to fend for themselves. They reach sexually maturity and can live up to 19.5 years.

ECOLOGY:
From shrub-covered coastal dunes to forests, these snakes like rocky areas and ledges. It reaches higher elevations than any other rattlesnake in the U.S.

The snake preys upon small mammals, birds and lizards. It uses its tongue and heat sensing pits to hunt. When it bites its prey, the snake will release 20-55% of its venom, which is 300 times what is needed to kill a small rodent. It does this because its venom is used to break down the tissue of the animal, as well, helping to digest the victim. The northern pacific hunts during the day on warm days, but waits until nightfall when the days become hotter. It is hunted by various birds of prey, including the red-tailed hawk.