Photo credit:

Courtenay Lou Harding

Common name

Prairie Rattlesnake, Western Rattlesnake, Great Plains Rattlesnake

Scientific name

Crotalus viridis viridis

Conservation Status

Federal and State Protections

Countries of Occurrence

States or Providence 


Adult size

Species Description

This medium-sized rattlesnake ranges primarily east of the Rocky Mountains from Canada down to Mexico. In a few states and Canadian provinces, it is the only venomous snake species. The prairie rattlesnake primarily feeds on mammals as adults, but given their diverse habitat and range, this rattlesnake has also been recorded consuming birds, lizards, and amphibians. The venom of the prairie rattlesnake primarily consists of myotoxins which leads to muscle necrosis and paralysis.

Fun fact: Juvenile prairie rattlesnakes have been documented to control their venom from birth, contradicting the myth that baby rattlesnakes cannot control their venom output. Juvenile rattlesnakes have to learn from experience how much venom to input into smaller or larger prey, however.

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Jacksonville, FL |  |  1-800-690-5638

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