Arizona is home to 17 types of rattlesnakes, the most popular being the Western Diamondback. Keep reading to learn more about these fascinating creatures.
Rattlesnakes can grow from 1 to 8 feet long depending on the species. They have a triangle shaped head and eyes with a black slit. Their head contains a hollow spot on each side between the eyes and nostrils called a pit. This is a sensory organ that helps the rattlesnake detect body heat for hunting at night. Many are colored in patches of tan and brown but their colors can vary. Their lifespan ranges from 10-20 years. Their rattles are made of keratin, the same material as your fingernails. Their rattles may be broken off, malformed, or silent - so never rely on the rattler as the only form of identification.
As many as 350 people are bitten by rattlesnakes each year in Arizona. These bites can be lethal. A rattlesnake’s striking distance can be up to one third to one half of its overall length. More than half of all rattlesnake bites are caused by provoking or approaching them. Rattlesnakes are captivating animals and deserve our utmost respect. If you come across one in the wild, it is best to keep a safe distance. Contrary to popular belief, they are not aggressive, but in reality, they are typically quite subdued and would rather crawl away than confront a human. They only bite to eat and defend themselves.
Along with their heat-sensing pits, rattlesnakes use their tongue to detect the scent of prey. They have two retractable fangs that quickly spring into action when they are attacking. Rattlesnakes are carnivores. Typical prey includes birds, rodents, rabbits, lizards, and amphibians.
Link: g00 2/8 pp. 28-29