By far the most commonly encountered venomous snake that I’ve come across on my many visits to the Mojave Desert is this one.
This highly venomous pit viper native to deserts in the southwestern United States is perhaps best known for its potent neurotoxic/hemotoxic toxin, which is considered the world’s most potent rattlesnake venom.
The Mojave Rattlesnake’s color varies from shades of brown to pale green. The green version has led to them being known as “Mojave greens” in some areas. Like the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, which it closely resembles, it features a dark diamond pattern along its back.
This is not a particularly large snake – adults average about three feet in length. It lives mainly in the high desert and lower mountain slopes. Its habitat may vary from the dry desert to grasslands and scrub.
The Mojave Rattlesnake eats Kangaroo rats and other rodents. It is primarily nocturnal, hiding under crevices or in burrows during the hot day. I’ve only encountered one in the daytime, but have seen dozens over the years crossing roads at night.
Like other rattlesnakes, it gives live birth, averaging eight offspring. Baby rattlesnakes are born fully formed, ready to hunt, completely independent from their parents and able to defend themselves.
The Mojave Rattlesnake is one of the world’s most venomous snakes; it’s therefore always a thrill to encounter one while exploring the southwest.