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Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii

sistrurus catenatus edwardsii, sistrurus catenatus edwardsiidae
Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii is a subspecies of venomous pit viper 5 endemic to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico In places its range overlaps that of S c tergeminus, and intergrading of the two subspecies is not unknown


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Description
  • 3 Geographic range
  • 4 Habitat
  • 5 Behavior
  • 6 Feeding
  • 7 Venom
  • 8 Conservation status
  • 9 See also
  • 10 References
  • 11 Further reading
  • 12 External links


The subspecific name, edwardsii, is in honor of Colonel Dr Lewis A Edwards 1824-1877, a US Army surgeon,6 who collected the type specimen7


S c edwardsi pair in copula mating

This subspecies is more slender and smaller than S c tergeminus, reaching a maximum length of 53 centimetres 21 in2

The color pattern consists of a light gray or white base color, with dark gray or gray-brown blotches They have a distinctive, dark stripe that runs along the side of the head which passes over the eye Their rattles are significantly higher pitched than those of larger species of rattlesnake, sometimes giving them the nickname buzztail

Compared to S c tergeminus, it is paler in color, and its belly is nearly white Midbody, it has 23 rows of dorsal scales instead of 25, as well as fewer ventral scales and dorsal blotches3

Geographic rangeedit

Found in the United States extreme southeastern Arizona, central and southern New Mexico, western Texas about as far north and east as the Colorado River, in the Rio Grande Valley, in many of the Gulf Coast counties about as far north as Brazoria, and on several barrier islands including North Padre Island, Matagorda Island and San José Island In addition, isolated populations have been reported in northeastern Mexico389 The type locality is listed as "Tamaulipas S Bank of Rio Grande Sonora"1


Primarily found in rocky, semi-arid and arid areas According to Conant 1975, it is mostly found in desert grasslands2


They are primarily nocturnal, especially during the summer months when it is too hot for them to be active, but they will sometimes be found out sunning themselves


Their diet consists primarily of rodents, lizards and frogs


Drop for drop, massasauga venom is more potent than that of many larger species of rattlesnake, but due to the lower yield the amount it is capable of delivering in a single bite its potential for harm is greatly reduced They are not considered to be deadly, but the venom is a powerful cytotoxic venom which can cause swelling, necrosis, damage to the skin, and severe pain Medical treatment should be sought immediately for any venomous snake bite The antivenin CroFab, while not type specific, can be used to treat severe envenomations from massasaugas

Conservation statusedit

The desert massasauga is listed as a species of concern in Colorado, due to its limited range in the state, and it is protected by Arizona state law It is listed as a sensitive species by the United States Forest Service

See alsoedit

  • List of crotaline species and subspecies
  • Crotalinae by common name
  • Crotalinae by taxonomic synonyms
  • Snakebite


  1. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T 1999 Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol 1 Herpetologists' League 511 pp ISBN 1-893777-00-6 series ISBN 1-893777-01-4 volume
  2. ^ a b c Conant R 1975 A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America Second Edition First published in 1958 Houghton Mifflin Company Boston 429 pp 48 plates ISBN 0-395-19979-4 hc, ISBN 0-395-19977-8 pb
  3. ^ a b c Wright AH, Wright AA 1957 Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada Comstock Publishing Associates Ithaca and London 7th printing, 1985 1105 pp ISBN 0-8014-0463-0
  4. ^ Ditmars RL 1933 Reptiles of the World Revised Edition The MacMillan Company 329 pp 89 plates
  5. ^ "Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii" Integrated Taxonomic Information System Retrieved 31 January 2007 
  6. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson; Michael 2011 The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press xiii + 296 pp ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5 Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii, p 81
  7. ^ Baird & Girard 1853
  8. ^ Klauber LM 1997 Rattlesnakes: Their Habitats, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind Second Edition First published in 1956, 1972 University of California Press, Berkeley ISBN 0-520-21056-5
  9. ^ Campbell JA, Lamar WW 2004 The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca and London 870 pp 1500 plates ISBN 0-8014-4141-2

Further readingedit

  • Baird, SF and CF Girard 1853 Catalogue of North American Reptiles in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Part I—Serpents Smithsonian Institution Washington, District of Columbia xvi + 172 pp Crotalophorus edwardsii, p 15
  • Mackessy SP 2005 Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii: A Technical Conservation Assessment USDA Forest Service PDF at USDA Species Conservation Project Accessed 31 January 2007
  • Yarrow, HC 1875 Chapter IV Report upon the Collections of Batrachians and Reptiles made in Portions of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, during the Years 1871, 1872, 1873, and 1874 pp 511–584 IN Report upon Geographical and Geological Explorations and Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian in Charge of First Lieut Geo M Wheeler, Corps of Engineers, US ArmyVol V—Zoology Secretary of War, US Government Washington, District of Columbia 1021 pp Caudisona edwardsii, pp 531–532

External linksedit

  • Sistrurus catenatus at the Reptariumcz Reptile Database Accessed 25 August 2007
  • Sistrurus catenatus at Herps of Texas Accessed 31 January 2007
  • Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii at Arizona Parc Accessed 25 August 2007
  • Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii at California Reptiles and Amphibians Accessed 25 August 2007

sistrurus catenatus edwardsii, sistrurus catenatus edwardsiidae

Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii Information about

Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii

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