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GREAT BASIN RATTLESNAKE } Crotalus oreganus lutosus

RANGE: North America’s Great Basin region

STATUS: The Great Basin rattlesnake is classified as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

THREATS: Persecution near human settlements, habitat loss and degradation due to urbanization, agricultural expansion, and road construction

The Great Basin rattlesnake makes its home in the parched hills and valleys of the western United States, soaking up warmth along rocky bluffs with plenty of southern exposure. An adult Great Basin rattlesnake can reach three to four feet from nose to tail, including its infamous rattle, which it sounds as a warning when the snake is alarmed. Great Basin rattlesnakes hunt small mammals, birds, insects, and other reptiles, injecting venom into their prey though long, hollow fangs. These fascinating reptiles can re-grow broken fangs and are able to control the amount of venom used on a particular target. Though they’d much rather keep out of sight and go about their business than meet with a person, rattlesnakes have been vilified by human society — which has unfortunately placed them among the least sympathetic victims, in the popular imagination, of habitat loss due to urban and agricultural development.

Photo © Gary Nafis