Western rattlesnake

rattlesnake - Jeff Robinson

Crotalus oreganus

Western rattlesnakes are found in the warm, dry habitats of the Bay Area where they hunt rodents, small mammals, birds, other reptiles, and amphibians.  Rattlesnakes are also on the menu for other animals—hawks, roadrunners, kingsnakes, and wild pigs all hunt and eat rattlesnakes.

Although drab in color, the distinct triangular-shaped head and tail rattles distinguish this snake from others.  Western rattlesnakes usually keep to themselves and strike only when hunting, startled, or in defense.

How old is that snake? Some people think you can count the rattles to tell the age of a rattlesnake.  They do gain a rattle every time they shed their skin; however, they also often break off old and worn rattles.  So more rattles indicate an older snake, but you cannot age a snake by the number of rattles.

Talus, our resident rattlesnake, has lived at Lindsay Wildlife since 1999 in a secure locked enclosure.  He is handled only with snake tongs by trained keepers and wildlife hospital staff.  He can be seen in our main hall near the other reptiles.