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Photo credit:

Jonathan Bolton

Common name

Northern Black-tailed Rattlesnake

Scientific name

Crotalus molossus molossus

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Federal and State Protections

Sujeta a Protección Especial (Pr) - Mexico

Range Map


Countries of Occurrence

United States of America, Mexico

Adult size

57.6cm (22.7in) - 154.2cm (60.7)

States or Providence 

Texas (US), New Mexico (US), Arizona (US), Sonora (MX), Chihuahua (MX) and
Coahuila (MX)


Apache (AZ), Cochise (AZ), Coconino (AZ), Greenlee (AZ), Maricopa (AZ), Mohave (AZ), Navajo (AZ), Pima (AZ), Pinal (AZ), Santa Cruz (AZ), Yavapai (AZ), La Paz (AZ), Yuma (AZ), Gila (AZ), Graham (AZ)

Species Description

This rattlesnake ranges from Texas to Arizona and south into the Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua and Choahuila. It can be found in grasslands, deserts, rocky areas, and high-pine or boreal forests. Their diet is primarily mammalian, including woodrats, squirrels and rabbits; however, individuals have also been reported to opportunistically take a wide variety of prey, including other snakes and Gila lizards.

Black-tailed rattlesnakes are also occasional climbers, and have been observed sunning themselves over 2.5m above the ground.

The northern black-tailed rattlesnake can occupy a diverse range of habitat and elevation. It can be found at up to 12,000 feet elevation! For reference, the tallest mountain in the Rocky Mountain Range is Mt. Elbert at 14,440 feet.

Fun fact: The specific name comes from a Latin word for a large ferocious dog from Molossia (Epirus), a preferred type of watchdog in Italy and Greece.

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