Arizona Ridge-Nosed Rattlesnake

Arizona State Reptile


Arizona ridge-nosed rattlesnake

Arizona ridge-nosed rattlesnake; photo © Glenn McCrea / CritterZone: Animal - Wildlife - Nature Stock Photography (all rights reserved; used by permission).

Arizona Ridge-Nosed Rattlesnake

The Arizona ridge-nosed rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi) was recognized as the official state reptile of Arizona in 1986. First known to science in 1905, this small brown snake is one of the most primitive rattlesnakes found in this country. This snake is a unique species which is an important and irreplaceable part of the North American natural heritage.

Characterized by the strong white facial stripes and the distinctive ridge along each side of its nose, the ridge-nosed rattlesnake inhabits the moist pine-oak canyons of the Santa Rita and Huachuca Mountains in Arizona. It is well camouflaged, but If discovered it will usually try to crawl rapidly away rather than present a defense. The venom does not appear to be particularly potent and no human deaths from its bite are recorded.

Scientists have identified 36 species of rattlesnake (rattlesnakes live only in North and South America). Thirteen species of rattlesnake live in Arizona (more than any other state).

Rattlesnakes found in Arizona

Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)
Mohave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes)
Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchelli)
Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei)
Tiger Rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris)
Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus)
Arizona Black Rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus)
Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus)
Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus)

Many snakes without true rattles vibrate their tail against leaves to produce a rattling sound as a warning. It is thought that early rattlesnakes, which lived in more rocky areas, developed a true rattle because of the lack of leaves or grass against which the tail could vibrate. The rattle is made of keratin (the same material found in human hair and fingernails). One can not tell the age of a rattlesnake by the segments of its rattle.



Arizona Ridge-nose Rattlesnake

Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake