Crotalus atrox 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Viperidae

Scientific Name: Crotalus atrox Baird & Girard, 1853
Common Name(s):
English Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake, Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

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. & Santos-Barrera, G.
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:The species' geographic range extends from southeastern California, possibly southern Nevada, central and southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas in the United States, south in Mexico to extreme northeastern Baja California, northern Sinaloa, Veracruz, and (at least formerly) disjunctly to Oaxaca (Ernst 1992, Campbell and Lamar 2004). It is unclear whether specimens collected in Kansas represent translocated individuals or part of a natural population (Matlack and Rehmeier 2002). The elevational range extends from near sea level up to at least 2,440 m asl in San Luis Potosi (Klauber 1972), but most locations are below 1,500 m asl (Campbell and Lamar 2004).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico; United States
Additional data:
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. Campbell and Lamar (2004) mapped hundreds of collection sites. The adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 100,000. This is a common snake in much of its range. Its extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, and number of subpopulations are probably relatively stable; population size is probably declining at less than 10% over 10 years or three generations.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species' habitat encompasses arid and semi-arid regions, from plains to mountains and from sandy flats to rocky uplands, including desert, grassland, shrubland, woodland, open pine forest, river bottoms, and coastal islands (Degenhardt et al. 1996, Tennant 1998, Werler and Dixon 2000, Stebbins 2003, Campbell and Lamar 2004). In southeastern Arizona, this snake is more numerous in desert scrub than in semi-desert grassland (Mendelson and Jennings 1992). It hibernates in rock crevices or cavities or sometimes in animal burrows or under other cover (Ernst 1992). Hibernation sometimes occurs communally in brushy upland ridges. A population in southeastern Arizona used mainly creosote bush flats but switched to rocky slopes during winter (Beck 1995). This primarily terrestrial snake sometimes climbs into vegetation or enters water.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No major threats have been identified. Some populations have been decimated by habitat destruction, automobile traffic, and/or direct killing by humans, especially in conjunction with "rattlesnake roundups."

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Several occurrences of this species are in protected areas.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
8. Desert -> 8.2. Desert - Temperate

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education

Bibliography [top]

Alvarez, T. and Huerta, P. 1974. Nuevo registro de Crotalus atrox para la peninsula de Baja California. Rev. Soc. Mex. Nat. Hist. 53: 113-115.

Beck, D.D. 1995. Ecology and energetics of three sympatric rattlesnakes in the Sonoran Desert. Journal of Herpetology 29: 211-223.

Bogert, C.M. 1942. Field note of the copulation of Crotalus atrox in California. Copeia 1942: 262.

Campbell, J.A. and Lamar, W.W. 1989. The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.

Campbell, J.A. and Lamar, W.W. 2004. The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere. Comstock, Ithaca, New York and London, UK.

Cliff, F.S. 1954. Snakes on the islands in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 9: 67-98.

Degenhardt, W.G., Painter, C.W. and Price, A.H. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Xix + 431 pp.

Ernst, C.H. 1992. Venomous Reptiles of North America. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Grismer, L.L. 2002. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cort├ęs. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

Klauber, L.M. 1972. Rattlesnakes: Their Habits, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind. Second edition. University of California Press, Berkeley, California.

Lowe, C.H. 1942. Notes on the mating of desert rattlesnakes. Copeia 1942: 261-262.

Matlack, R.S. and Rehmeier, R.L. 2002. Status of the western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) in Kansas. Southwestern Naturalist 47: 312-313.

Mendelson III, J.R. and Jennings, W.B 1992. Shifts in the relative abundance of snakes in a desert grassland. Journal of Herpetology 26: 38-45.

Murphy, R.W. and Crabtree, B. 1985. Generic relationships of the Santa Catalina Island rattleless rattlesnake, Crotalus catalinensis (Serpentes: Viperidae). Acta Zoologica Mexicana 9: 1-16.

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Tennant, A. 1998. A Field Guide to Texas Snakes. Second edition. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas.

Werler, J.E. and Dixon, J.R. 2000. Texas Snakes: Identification, Distribution, and Natural History. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.

Citation: Frost, D.R., Hammerson, G.A. & Santos-Barrera, G. 2007. Crotalus atrox. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T64311A12763519. . Downloaded on 21 June 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided