Great Basin Rattlesnake

Scientific Name:

Crotalus oreganus lutosus

Type:

Reptile

Habitat:

High deserts, rocky outcrops, living below 11,000 feet, typically found around 8,000 feet

Range:

Anywhere from southeast Oregon, southern Idaho, northeastern California, across Nevada, western Utah, to northern Arizona

Status:

Population is stable

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Great Basin rattlesnakes are typically a lighter tan, yellow, and/or gray color and will have circular brown spots down the center of their backs. These snakes have large and keeled scales. Keeled scales are not smooth and will have a ridge in the center of the scale making them rough to the touch. Individuals can be seen with very pronounced facial stripes at times. These snakes can range anywhere from approximately 16 to 64 inches long.

Fast Facts:

  • While this shy and solitary reptile may frighten most, rattlesnakes will typically respond to a threat in a predictable manner. When the snake feels threatened, he will move out of the way. If this does not do the trick, he will then shake his rattled tail creating the sound that is often associated with a rattlesnake, saving a bite as his last resort of protection.

  • All rattlesnakes are ambush predators. Meaning, they do no hunting but instead will sit and wait to ambush their meal. Their eyes provide a binocular type sense of vision, allowing them the ability to accurately estimate a distance while striking.

  • All rattlesnakes will smell through the use of collecting molecular components through their forked tongues with the help of their Jacobson’s organ, which all reptiles share. The nostrils on a snake are used for solely respiratory purposes.

  • The Great Basin rattlesnake is a subspecies of the western rattlesnake.

  • Here in the Truckee Meadows, Great Basin rattlesnakes have been observed at Mayberry Park, Hidden Valley Regional Park, Huffaker Park, and Washoe Lake State Park.

  • Rattlesnake bites are few and far in between and only 1% of bites are fatal, and only about 30% to 40% bites will actually be accompanied with venom from the snake. Snakes are important to serve as pest control of rodent populations, therefore reducing diseases that rodents will carry. Great Basin rattlesnakes are beautiful and fascinating, serving an important part in our ecosystem. 

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Tia Davis (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

June 1, 2021, 8:46:39 PM