Crotalus cerastes


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Crotalus cerastes
Species Authority: Hallowell, 1854
Common Name/s:
English Sidewinder

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor/s: Frost, D.R., Hammerson, G.A. & Gadsden, H.
Reviewer/s: Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species' range extends from southeastern California, southern Nevada, and extreme southwestern Utah, south through southwestern Arizona in the United States, to northeastern Baja California and northwestern Sonora, and Isla Tiburon, in Mexico (Grismer 2002, Stebbins 2003, Campbell and Lamar 2004). In Sonora, this species occurs north and west of the Nogales-Hermosillo-Guaymas highway, with the heaviest concentration in the Desierto de Altar (Armstrong and Murphy 1979). The elevational range extends from below sea level to about 6,000 feet (1,830 m asl) (Stebbins 2003), but most localities are below 1,200 m asl (Campbell and Lamar 2004).
Mexico; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences. The adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 100,000. This snake is locally common in suitable habitat. Its extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This snake generally inhabits open desert terrain with fine windblown sand, desert flats with sandy washes, or sand dunes sparsely vegetated with creosote bush or mesquite; sometimes it occurs in rocky or gravelly sites (Lowe et al. 1986, Ernst and Ernst 2003, Stebbins 2003, Campbell and Lamar 2004). In the Mojave Desert, snakes concentrated near washes and areas of relatively dense vegetation where mammal burrows were common (Brown and Lillywhite 1992), though in other areas this snake has been found to be more common where vegetation is sparse. During the daytime inactive period, individuals retreat into underground burrows or under bushes, or, at the end of activity at night, snuggle into sand with a minimum of the body exposed, remaining partially buried through daylight until conditions become too hot (then seeking shade) (Brown and Lillywhite 1992). Hibernation sites are in in burrows of rodents or tortoises (Secor cited by Ernst 1992, Brown and Lillywhite 1992). In the eastern Mojave Desert, sidewinders hibernated in rodent burrows at the sand-alluvium interface (Secor 1994). This terrestrial snake rarely climbs into vegetation.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No major threats to this species are known.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Several to many occurrences of this species are in protected areas.
Citation: Frost, D.R., Hammerson, G.A. & Gadsden, H. 2007. Crotalus cerastes. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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