Venomous Cali. Snakes

Below is a list of Venomous Californian snakes your dog may come in contact with.

 Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

   

 
 
 
Size
Adults 30 – 44 inches long, sometimes up to 54 inches. Newborns about 10 inches long.
Appearance
A heavy-bodied, venomous pit viper, with a thin neck and a large triangular head. Pupils are elliptical. Scales are keeled.
Ground color is brown to olive-brown. Dark brown blotches, completely outlined by light pigment, mark the back. These blotches turn to bars toward the tail, which is surrounded with dark rings. The last ring is not well-defined and is more than twice the width of the other rings. Young have a bright yellow tail. The underside is pale, sometimes weakly mottled.
A rattle, consisting of loose interlocking segments, usually occurs at the end of the tail. A new rattle segment is added each time the skin is shed. Newborn snakes do not have a rattle – just a single button which does not make a sound.
Heat sensing pits on the sides of the head help the snake to locate prey by their warmth. Long, hollow, movable fangs connected to venom glands inject a very toxic venom which quickly immobilize prey. The snake can control the amount of venom injected and the fangs are replaced if broken. Bites on humans are potentially dangerous without immediate medical treatment. Even a dead snake can bite and inject venom if the jaws reflexively open when they are touched.
Behavior
Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate. Not active during cooler periods in Winter.
Prey is found while the snake is actively moving, or by ambush, where the snake waits near lizard or rodent trails, striking at and releasing passing prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.
Diet
Eats birds, lizards, snakes, frogs, insects, and small mammals, including mice, rats, rabbits, hares, and ground squirrels. (Adult California Ground Squirrels are immune to rattlesnake venom and will intensely confront any snake they feel to be a threat.)
Reproduction
Live-bearing; young born August – October. Known to hybridize with the Northern Mohave Rattlesnake where their ranges overlap in the Antelope Valley.
Range
Found in California from Santa Barbara County, where there is a wide zone of intergradation with the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake north to around Morro Bay, east to the central valley and the desert slopes of the transverse and peninsular ranges, and south into the middle of the Baja California peninsula. Ranges north of the transverse ranges into the Mojave Desert in the Antelope Valley and just south of Barstow.
Also found on Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands.
Habitat
Found in a wide range of habitats from seaside dunes, to desert scrub, grassy plains, rocky hillsides, chaparral, open woodlands, and agricultural areas.

Norther Pacific Rattlesnake

  

 
 
 
Size
Adults 15 – 36 inches long, sometimes up to 48 inches with 60 inches being the longest.
Appearance
A heavy-bodied, venomous pit viper, with a thin neck and a large triangular head. Pupils are elliptical. Scales are keeled. Usually with a light stripe extending diagonally from behind the eye to the corner of the mouth.
The ground color is variable, matching the environment – olive-green, gray, brown, golden, reddish brown, yellowish, or tan. Dorsal blotches on the front 2/3 of the body, change to dark bars on the body and dark and light rings on the tail which are well-defined and of uniform width. Young have a bright yellow tail. The underside is pale, sometimes weakly mottled.
Dark brown or black blotched markings, usually with dark edges and light borders, mark the back, with corresponding blotches on the sides. This pattern is brighter on juveniles than on adults.
A rattle, consisting of loose interlocking segments, usually occurs at the end of the tail. A new rattle segment is added each time the skin is shed. Newborn snakes do not have a rattle – just a single button which does not make a sound.
Heat sensing pits on the sides of the head help the snake to locate prey by their warmth. Long, hollow, movable fangs connected to venom glands inject a very toxic venom which quickly immobilize prey. The snake can control the amount of venom injected and the fangs are replaced if broken. Bites on humans are potentially dangerous without immediate medical treatment. Even a dead snake can bite and inject venom if the jaws reflexively open when they are touched.
Behavior
Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate. Not active during cooler periods in Winter. In colder areas, known to den in burrows, caves, and rock crevices, sometimes in large numbers, and sometimes with other snake species.
Prey is found while the snake is actively moving, or by ambush, where the snake waits near lizard or rodent trails, striking at and releasing passing prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.
Diet
Eats birds, lizards, snakes, frogs, insects, and small mammals, including mice, rats, rabbits, hares, and ground squirrels. (Adult California Ground Squirrels are immune to rattlesnake venom and will intensely confront any snake they feel to be a threat.)
Reproduction
Live-bearing; young are born August – October.
Range
Found in California from Santa Barbara county,east to the Sierras, and north from the coast to the Sierras and west of the Cascades ranges. Ranges north through Oregon, west of the Cascades in Washington and into British Columbia, Canada, and east west-central Idaho.
Habitat
Inhabits rocky hillsides, talus slopes and outcrops, rocky stream courses, rocky areas in grasslands, mixed woodlands, montane forests, pinyon juniper, sagebrush. Sea level to around 11,000 ft.

Red Diamond Rattlesnake

   

 
 
 
Size
Adults are 30 – 65 inches in length, typically 2 – 4.5 feet long. Young about 12 inches long.
Appearance
A heavy-bodied, venomous pit viper, with a thin neck and a large triangular head. Pupils are elliptical. Scales are keeled.
Variable in ground color; pink, reddish-tan, reddish-brown or brick red. Diamond-shaped blotches, usually with light edges, mark the back. Juveniles are duller in coloring than adults. The underside is usually dull yellow and unmarked. Black and white rings surround a thick tail. A rattle, consisting of loose interlocking segments, usually occurs at the end of the tail. A new rattle segment is added each time the skin is shed. Newborn snakes do not have a rattle – just a single button which does not make a sound.
Heat sensing pits on the sides of the head help the snake to locate prey by their warmth. Long, hollow, movable fangs connected to venom glands inject a very toxic venom which quickly immobilize prey. The snake can control the amount of venom injected and the fangs are replaced if broken. Bites on humans are potentially dangerous without immediate medical treatment. Even a dead snake can bite and inject venom if the jaws reflexively open when they are touched.
Behavior
Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate or when in the comparatively cooler shaded areas of boulder fields. Not active during cooler periods in Winter. Terrestrial, but may partially climb shrubs or trees.
Prey is found when actively moving, or by ambush, where the snake waits near lizard or rodent trails, striking at and releasing passing prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.
Diet
Eats small mammals, including ground squirrels, wood rats, and rabbits, lizards, and birds. (Adult California Ground Squirrels are immune to rattlesnake venom and will intensely confront any snake they feel to be a threat.)
Reproduction
Live-bearing; young born July – September. Male to male combat occurs.
Range
Found in southwestern California, from the Morongo Valley west to the coast and south along the peninsular ranges to mid Baja California.
Habitat
Inhabits arid scrub, coastal chaparral, oak and pine woodlands, rocky grassland, cultivated areas. On the desert slopes of the mountains, it ranges into rocky desert flats.

Mojave Rattlesnake

   

 
 
 
Size
Adults 24 – 51 inches long. Most snakes encountered are from 18 – 40 inches in length. Newborns are about 10.5 inches.
Appearance
A heavy-bodied, dangeously venomous pit viper, with a thin neck and a large triangular head. Pupils are elliptical. Scales are keeled. Usually there are 2 or 3 large scaleson the top of the head between the supraoculars. (The Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake usually has 4 or more small scalesbetween the supraoculars.) A light stripe runs from behind the eye diagonally to the upper lip beyond the corner of the mouth, but does not cross over the lip. (The posterior light stripe of the Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake extends to the upper lip in front of the corner of the mouth, crossing over the lip.)
Ground color varies from greenish gray, yellow, tan, olive green, to brown. Irregular, dark, well-defined, diamond or near diamond-shaped dorsal markings.
Black and white rings surround a thick tail. The black rings are narrower than the light rings, and often offset. A rattle on the end of the tail, consisting of loose interlocking segments. A new rattle segment is added each time the skin is shed. Newborn snakes do not have a rattle – just a single button which does not make a sound.
Heat sensing pits on the sides of the head help the snake to locate prey by their warmth. Long, hollow, movable fangs connected to venom glands inject a very toxic venom which quickly immobilize prey. The snake can control the amount of venom injected and the fangs are replaced if broken. Bites on humans are potentially dangerous without immediate medical treatment. Even a dead snake can bite and inject venom if the jaws reflexively open when they are touched.
Behavior
Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate. Not active during cooler periods in Winter.
Prey is found while the snake is actively moving, or by ambush, where the snake waits near lizard or rodent trails, striking at and releasing passing prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.
Diet
Eats small mammals, including ground squirrels, mice, rats, rabbits and hares, and occasionally lizards, snakes, and toads.
(Adult California Ground Squirrels are immune to rattlesnake venom and will intensely confront any snake they feel to be a threat.)
Reproduction
Live-bearing; young are born July – September. Male to male combat occurs.
Range
Found in southeastern California from the Colorado river roughly near the San Bernardino County line, west through the Mojave desert, north, east of the Sierras into Inyo County. Absent from the southeastern Colorado deserts, but there are unconfirmed reports of sightings west of the Colorado River in Imperial County. Ranges north into Nevada, east into west Texas, and far south into Mexico.
Habitat
Inhabits grassland, desert scrub, rocky slopes, creosote bush flats, open juniper woodland, and light chaparral.
 

Mojave Sidewinder Rattlesnake

   

 
 
 
Size
Adults are 17 – 33 inches. Snakes encountered will generally be 12 – 18 inches. Juveniles are about 7 inches at birth.
Appearance
A heavy-bodied, venomous pit viper, with a thin neck and a large triangular head. Pupils are elliptical. Scales are keeled. A dark eye stripe and a pointed and upturened horn like scale above each eye. These horns may fold down over the eyes to protect them when the snakes is crawling in burrows.
Pale cream, tan, brown, pink, or grayish back color usually closely matches the soil surface allowing the snake to blend in with the background. Around 40 darker blotches on the back.
A thick tail with a rattle, consisting of loose interlocking segments, at the end. A new rattle segment is added each time the skin is shed. Newborn snakes do not have a rattle – just a single button which does not make a sound. The segment of the rattle closest to the body on an adult snake is brown. The Colorado Desert Sidewinder has a black segment. Heat sensing pits on the sides of the head help the snake to locate prey by their warmth.
Long, hollow, movable fangs connected to venom glands inject a toxic venom which quickly immobilize the prey. The snake can control the amount of venom injected and the fangs are replaced if broken. Though the amount of venom a sidewinder injects is relatively small and rarely deadly, bites on humans are potentially dangerous. Even a dead snake can bite and inject venom if the jaws open reflexively when they are touched.
Behavior
Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate. Not active during cooler periods in Winter.
An ambush hunter, it sits buried beneath the surface of loose sand with just the top of the head showing, near kangaroo rat warrens, and lizard or rodent trails, then strikes at and releases the prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.
Moves with a sidewinding locomotion, throwing raised loops of the body to the side to push itself forward in an s-sheped curve. A sidewinders trail looks like a series of parallel j-shaped lines pointing roughly 45 degrees from the direction of movement.
Diet
Eats mainly lizards when young, and increasingly larger prey including small rodents when grown.
Reproduction
Live-bearing. Babies are produced late summer to mid-autumn.
Range
Found in south-central California south and east of the Sierras south to roughly the San Bernardino county line. Ranges east through Nevada to extreme southwestern Utah and south to extreme west-central Arizona.
Habitat
Inhabits primarily areas of wind-blown sands, especially where sand hummocks are topped with vegetation. Also found in hardpan, open flats, rocky hillsides, and other desert areas, especially those grown with creosote bush, where the terrain is open, not obstructed by rocks or vegetation, allowing the broad sidewinding locomotion.
 

Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake

   

 
 
 
Size
Adults are 23-52 inches in length averaging 2 – 3.5 feet. Young 8.5 – 10.5 inches.
Appearance
A heavy-bodied, venomous pit viper, with a thin neck and a large triangular head. Pupils are elliptical. Scales are keeled.
Shows a great variety of body coloration which usually allows the snake to blend into its environment, from off-white, yellowish, gray, tan, pinkish, pale orange, to brown. Snakes from dark lava bed environments can be almost all black. The body is marked with a vague pattern consisting of dark speckled banded markings. Dark and light rings surround a thick tail. The tail rings are in considerable color contrast with the body color, with the terminal rings being black and with an ash-gray ground color on the tail often present. The tail has a rattle on the end consisting of loose interlocking segments. A new rattle segment is added each time the skin is shed. Newborn snakes do not have a rattle – just a single button which does not make a sound.
Heat sensing pits on the sides of the head help the snake to locate prey by their warmth. Long, hollow, movable fangs connected to venom glands inject a very toxic venom which quickly immobilize prey. The snake can control the amount of venom injected and the fangs are replaced if broken. Bites on humans are potentially dangerous without immediate medical treatment. Even a dead snake can bite and inject venom if the jaws reflexively open when they are touched.
Behavior
Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate. Not active during cooler periods in Winter.
An ambush hunter, it may wait near lizard or rodent trails, striking at and releasing passing prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole. Prey is also found while the snake is actively moving.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.
Diet
Eats small mammals, lizards, and birds.
Reproduction
Live-bearing; young born July and August.
Range
Found throughout much of southern California, including coastal areas, north to aproximately the Mojave river, east into Nevada and extreme southwest Utah, south into Arizona and southern Baja California Norte. Sea level to 8,000 ft.
Habitat
Associated mostly with arid areas strewn with rocks and boulders – alongside buttes, mesas, and desert outcroppings, but sometimes found on loose soil. Occurs in areas vegetated by sagebrush, creosote, thornscrub, chaparral, pinon-juniper woodland, succulent desert.

Panamint Speckled Rattlesnake

   

 
 
 
Size
Adults are 23-52 inches in length averaging 2 – 3 feet. Young 10 inches.
Appearance
A heavy-bodied, venomous pit viper, with a thin neck and a large triangular head. Pupils are elliptical. Scales are keeled.Shows a great variety of body coloration which usually allows the snake to blend into its environment – tan, yellowish, orangish, gray, off-white, brown. The body is marked with a pattern consisting of dark speckled banded markings, which can be vague or distinct. A dark band or bands on the tail, but not usually alternating with light bands.The ground color of the tail is generally the same as the body color, not contrasting sharply with it. The last dark tail bands often seem to fuse together into one large black band just before the rattle. The tail has a rattle on the end consisting of loose interlocking segments. A new rattle segment is added each time the skin is shed. Newborn snakes do not have a rattle – just a single button which does not make a sound.
Heat sensing pits on the sides of the head help the snake to locate prey by their warmth. Long, hollow, movable fangs connected to venom glands inject a very toxic venom which quickly immobilize prey. The snake can control the amount of venom injected and the fangs are replaced if broken. Bites on humans are potentially dangerous without immediate medical treatment. Even a dead snake can bite and inject venom if the jaws reflexively open when they are touched.
Behavior
Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate. Not active during cooler periods in Winter.
An ambush hunter, it may wait near lizard or rodent trails, striking at and releasing passing prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole. Prey is also found while the snake is actively moving.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.
Diet
Eats small mammals, lizards, and birds.
Reproduction
Live-bearing; young born July and August.
Range
Found in central eastern California, from approximately the Mojave River north along the east side of the Sierras into Nevada.
Sea level to 8,000 ft..
Habitat
Associated mostly with habitats composed of rocky outcrops and boulders, but also found in creosote bush and cactus deserts and open coniferous woodlands.
 

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

   

 
 
 
Size
Adults grow to 30-90 inches. Most snakes encountered are from 1 to 4 feet in length.
Appearance
The largest rattlesnake in California, and in the West. Heavy-bodied, dangerously venomous, with a thin neck and a large triangular head. Pupils are elliptical. Scales are keeled. Sometimes 3, but usually 4 or more small scales occur on top of the head between the supraocular scales. (The Northern Mojave Rattlesnake has 2 large scales between the supraocular scales.)
The ground color and the intensity of the pattern are variable, often matching the habitat; grey, brown, olive, tan, or yellowish. Diamond-shaped blotches on the back are brown or black, with light edges. Broad black and white rings, fairly equal in width, circle a thick tail with a rattle, consisting of loose interlocking segments, at the end. A new rattle segment is added each time the skin is shed. Newborn snakes do not have a rattle – just a single button which does not make a sound. A light stripe extends from behind the eye diagonally to the upper lip in front of the corner of the mouth crossing over the lip.
Similar to and easily confused with the Mojave Rattlesnake, though there is little range overlap in California. Also similar to and easily confused with the Red Diamond Rattlesnake, but in California the ranges of these two snakes barely meet, and the Red Diamond Rattlesnake is typically light reddish brown or red in color.A pit viper with pits on the sides of the head which sense heat. These heat sensors help the snake to locate prey by their warmth. Long, hollow, movable fangs connected to venom glands inject a very toxic venom which quickly immobilize the prey. The snake can control the amount of venom injected and the fangs are replaced if broken. Bites on humans are potentially deadly without immediate medical treatment. Even a dead snake can bite and inject venom if the jaws reflexively open when they are touched.
Behavior
Primarily nocturnal during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate. Not active during cooler periods in Winter.
An ambush hunter, it typically sits near the trail of a mammal, waiting for it to pass by, then strikes at and releases the prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. When disturbed, in self-defense Western Diamond-backs will often aggressively hold their ground, raising the head high in a striking coil with the tail elevated and rattling, and hissing loudly. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.
Diet
Eats small mammals, birds, lizards. Juveniles sometimes eat large insects and frogs.
Reproduction
Live-bearing. Males engage in ritual combat mostly during the breeding season to defend territory. Necks and forebodies are intertwined, with the stronger snake slamming the smaller one to the ground until the weaker snake leaves the area.
Range
Found in southeast California in Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. Ranges east to Arkansas and East Texas, and south through Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma into Mexico.
Habitat
Inhabits arid and semiarid areas including mountains, deserts, canyons and rocky vegetated foothills, generally less than 1000 ft. elevation.

Great Basin Rattlesnake

   

 
 
 
Size
Adults of this species range from 15 – 65 inches long, but typically the adults seen are 3 – 4 feet long. Newborns are around 10 inches long.
Appearance
A heavy-bodied, venomous pit viper, with a thin neck and a large triangular head. Pupils are elliptical. Scales are keeled. Two light stripes extend diagonally across the sides of the head, but they are sometimes faded and not evident.
The ground color is variable, matching the environment – pale grey, tan, light yellow, buff colored. The back is marked with dark blotches with light centers, usually in the shape of bars or ovals, about as wide as the spaces between them. The underside is pale, sometimes weakly mottled.
The tail is barred, and without white rings. A rattle, consisting of loose interlocking segments, usually occurs at the end of the tail. A new rattle segment is added each time the skin is shed. Newborn snakes do not have a rattle – just a single button which does not make a sound.
Heat sensing pits on the sides of the head help the snake to locate prey by their warmth. Long, hollow, movable fangs connected to venom glands inject a very toxic venom which quickly immobilize prey. The snake can control the amount of venom injected and the fangs are replaced if broken. Bites on humans are potentially dangerous without immediate medical treatment. Even a dead snake can bite and inject venom if the jaws reflexively open when they are touched.
Behavior
Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate. Not active during cooler periods in Winter.
Prey is found while the snake is actively moving, or by ambush, where the snake waits near lizard or rodent trails, striking at and releasing passing prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.
Diet
Eats small mammals, including ground squirrels, mice, rats, rabbits and hares, birds, lizards, snakes, frogs, and insects.
Reproduction
Bears live young.
Range
Found in California in the far northeastern corner and in a small region east of the Sierras near the Mono Lake area. Ranges north into eastern Oregon, and east to western Utah, southern Idaho, most of Nevada, and barely into northwest Arizona.
Habitat
Inhabits rocky hillsides, barren flats, sagebrush, grassy plains, and agricultural areas.