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Photo credit:

Eric Centenero Alcala

Common name

Mexican Lance-headed Rattlesnake

Scientific name

Crotalus polystictus

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Federal and State Protections

Sujeta a Protección Especial (Pr) - Mexico

Range Map


Countries of Occurrence


Adult size

60cm (23.6in) - 100cm (39.4in)

States or Providence 

Zacatecas, Aguasalientes, Jalisco, Colima, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Estado de Mexico (Mexico State), Tlaxcala, Puebla, Morelos, Mexico City (Mexico D.F.), Veracruz


Species Description

This small-to-medium-sized rattlesnake species can be found on the plateau of Central Mexico. at elevations of 4,500ft (1370m) to 8,500 ft. They occur in a variety of habitats from grasslands to pine-oak forests, rocky lava outcrops, grassy plains and even marshlands. 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.

The venom composition and feeding behavior between adult and juvenile Mexican lance-headed rattlesnakes is different and changes with maturity--a change known as an ontogenetic shift. 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 lance-headed rattlesnakes will often bite-and-hold their prey, and their venom is slightly more toxic, consisting of more neurotoxic characteristics.

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