Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

COMMON NAME: Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Crotalus viridis helleri


One of the nine subspecies of the western rattlesnake, the southern pacific is relatively dark in coloration. It has a pattern of dark, diamond shaped blotches with light borders running down the middle of its back. The young also have a yellow tail. They are usually 16-64″ in length.

Mating occurs from March to May. 4-21 live young are born in the late summer or early fall. Youngare 22-28 cm in length and are immediately expected to fend for themselves. They reach sexually maturity and can live up to 21 years.

Southern pacific rattlesnakes are native to the southern coasts of California and Baja. They occupy valley grasslands, woodlands and shrub communities.

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 southern 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.

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