Great Basin Rattlesnake

Great Basin Rattlesnake


Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon


Arid to semi-arid, rocky areas up to 7,000 feet


Rattlesnakes are often heard before they are seen. When alarmed they may make a sound resembling a sudden burst of steam, but when only slightly disturbed may merely click the rattle. Coloration varies greatly, but similar to gopher snakes. Great Basin is Utah's most common rattler. Venom is of lower toxicity than many other rattlers. Some don't rattle.

Great Basin Rattlesnake

Rattlesnakes are "sit and wait" predators. Instead of hunting, they prefer to hide and let prey come to them. Rattlesnakes sense their surrounding world in several ways. With forward facing eyes, their vision is more binocular than that of most snakes. This gives them excellent aim and the ability to precisely judge distances when striking. They also can "smell" by collecting molecules on their forked tongues, then transferring them to a special receptor on the roof of their mouth called the Jacobson's Organ. Mild-tempered compared to other rattlesnakes


Rattlesnakes hibernate through the winter in communal burrows. For the Great Basin Rattlesnakes, mating occurs between March and May and sometimes in the fall. Young are live-born, usually between August and October in litter sizes of 4 - 21 young.

Interesting Facts:

Statistically, only one 1 in 500 people die from rattlesnake bites and the vast majority of these deaths occur when people refuse medical treatment. In fact, only 30%-40% of bites are accompanied with a venom injection. Rattlesnakes use venom to kill prey (small creatures like mice and other rodents). They prefer not to waste precious venom when delivering a defensive bite. Remember that a biting snake is responding defensively to your actions.

Great Basin Rattlesnake
Did YOU Know?    
The Great Basin Rattlesnake will not attack, but if disturbed will defend itself.
Great Basin Rattlesnake
Native Utah Animal
Class: reptiles
Order: Squamata
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Crotolus
Species: viridis lutosus
Length: 15 - 62 in.
Average Lifespan: 10-20 years
Wild Diet: Small mammals and birds, lizards and frogs
Predators: hawks and raptors
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building

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