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Common name

Colorado Desert Sidewinder

Scientific name

Crotalus cerastes laterorepens

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Federal and State Protections

Sujeta a Protección Especial (Pr) - Mexico

Range Map

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Countries of Occurrence

United States of America

Adult size

47cm (18.5in) - 61.5cm (24.2)

States or Providence 

Arizona (US), California (US), Baja California (MX), Sinaloa (MX)

Counties

Yuma (AZ), La Paz (AZ)

Species Description

This small rattlesnake can be found only in the Colorado Desert and larger Sonoran Desert in California, Arizona, and northern Mexico. Home range and a black basal rattle segment best differentiate this sidewinder from the other subspecies of sidewinders. The Colorado Desert sidewinder primarily eats lizards and mammals. Juveniles of this species will use their tail as a caudal lure to attract prey, especially lizards. When the opportunity presents itself, Colorado Desert sidewinders will attempt to predate desert kangaroo rats (Dipodomys deserti). However, the kangaroo rats have a number of anti-predator defenses, including making noise with their feet, rapidly jumping about, and kicking sand at the snakes. These anti-predator antics are actually extremely successful at dissuading C.c. lateropens from a first striking, as well as causing the strikes to miss.

The Colorado Desert experiences higher daytime temperatures than most other deserts and almost never frosts. It also has two rainy seasons, unlike the rest of the Sonoran Desert: late summer and over the winter. This may allow for the colorado desert sidewinder to be active at different times of the summer season than its Sonoran Desert and Mohave Desert counterparts.

Fun fact: Sidewinders have been recorded drinking rainwater from their scales as they live in very parched environments with little access to standing water.