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Common name

Mojave Desert Sidewinder

Scientific name

Crotalus cerastes cerastes

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Federal and State Protections

Range Map


Countries of Occurrence

United States of America

Adult size

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

States or Providence 

California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona


Mohave (AZ)

Species Description

This relatively small rattlesnake lives in the Mohave Desert and is crepuscular or nocturnal when temperatures are high during the day, but it can be active during the daytime as well. They have incredible camouflage which helps them elude predators and become invisible to prey. The Mohave Desert sidewinder is one of the few snakes that moves around using side-winding locomotion. This type of locomotion creates the J-pattern you may find in the sand when a snake has passed through!

Fun fact: The enlarged supraocular scales over this snake's eyes is theorized to act as shade when the sun is high and/or to prevent sand from obscuring the snake's vision while buried in sand. This also gave the sidewinder the nickname of "horned viper," not to be confused with actual horned vipers in the Middle East and Northern Africa!

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