Photo credit:

Eric Centenero Alcala

Common name

Mexican Lance-Headed Rattlesnake

Scientific name

Crotalus polystictus

Conservation Status

Federal and State Protections

Countries of Occurrence

States or Providence 


Adult size

Species Description

This small-to-medium-sized rattlesnake species can be found on the plateau of Central Mexico. at elevations of 4,500 to 8,500 ft. They occur in a variety of habitats from grasslands to pine-oak forests and rocky lava outcrops. This rather colorful rattlesnake species can be more tan, brown, gray, or white as a background to their distinctive "lancehead" spots. The Mexican lancehead rattlesnake's diet consists almost entirely of mammals. Males have a larger head than females and will eat larger prey as a result. The scientific name of this species "polystictus" refers to its pattern: "poly" = many, "sticto" = spotted.

Fun fact: The venom composition and feeding behavior between adult and juvenile Mexican lancehead rattlesnakes is different and changes with maturity! Adults of this species will frequently bite-and-release their rodent prey, and their venom is less toxic on average and causes more hemorrhaging. Juvenile Mexican lancehead rattlesnakes will often bite-and-hold their prey, and their venom is slightly more toxic, consisting of more neurotoxic characteristics.

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